The pubco said the Punch Tenant Network, which was founded by Chris Lindesay of the Sun Inn in Dunsfold, Surrey and has openly criticised the company throughout its financial restructuring, did not make direct contact with Punch until the Small Business, Enterprise, and Employment Bill Committee evidence session on 16 October 2014.
It also said that campaign group Fair Pint’s comments that parallel rent assessment “simply adds another column to an existing methodology” are “misleading and not a true reflection of the professional opinion of RICS, to which they are party.” It highlighted that Fair Pint members Simon Clarke and David Morgan were on the consultation committee which formulated the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors valuation guidance for pubs that stated comparison of tied and free of tie pubs is “problematic”.
Punch’s supplementary written submission to the Bill highlighted “inaccuracies” in evidence submitted by Ron Piper, former tenant of the Sir John Barleycorn in Hitchin Herts, and Carol Ross of the Roscoe Head in Liverpool.
Punch Taverns external affairs director Andy Slee said: “We have sought to provide clarity to the committee on a number of the points raised and refute claims that we believe to be completely wrong. The committee will need to make its own judgements but we are sure they will be based on the facts.”
Responding to Punch’s submission, Lindesay said: “The Punch Tenant Network (PTN) came into existence on 29th February 2014.
“PTN approached Punch as soon as practicable after the refinancing was completed and a meeting was held on November 5th.
“At that meeting a number of suggestions were made as to how Punch and PTN members might work together to the mutual benefit of the tenants and Punch.
“We are a little disappointed that we have not yet had any response, but understand that Punch may be very busy engaging with members of parliament at present.”
Fair Pint campaigner Simon Clarke said: “We agreed the [RICS] guidance and stand by it but it was our understanding that there was no dispute amongst the panellists that one of the key principles of the guidance was to ensure that a tied tenant was no worse off than if they were free of tie.”
He added: “Comparison between any pubs is problematic, location, size, demographic, prominence, lease terms and even the tenant in occupation all need to be considered and subjective reflections made to accommodate differences.
“In order to accommodate the principle of a 'tied tenant being no worse off than if they were free of tie' into existing rent assessment templates an additional column is needed to demonstrate the profitability and circumstances of the tenant under a free of tie scenario, much the same as proposed by the Government’s proposed pubs code.”