Let's not misuse ACVs

By Ed Bedington

- Last updated on GMT

Let's not misuse ACVs

Related tags Pubs Landlord Otley

There seems to be a growing sense of disquiet when it comes to recent activity in the area of Assets of Community Value (ACV).

The recent blanket listing of 19 pubs in Otley​ seems to have found favour with the operators in the town, however, another similar attempt in Hampstead​ provoked anger from one of the 12 pubs being “protected”.

The PMA post bag has also received complaints from freehold landlords who have found their businesses being placed under a protection order from people, who in their words, have not been “putting cash behind the bar”.

I’m surprised Otley has the capacity to sustain 19 pubs, and the idea of a blanket order being made across all of them strikes me as something of a cynical publicity stunt — are the locals seriously going to step up and take on any number of those pubs should the businesses struggle or seek to change use?

I have a lot of sympathy for the idea behind the ACV — the proper use of such an order can help defend the fabric of a community and stop unnecessary closures of viable pubs. Putting 19 of them across one small town strikes me as using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

In the past Otley has vied with other towns in the UK for the title of having the most number of pubs per head — but is that sustainable anymore? And should we be using things like blanket ACV’s to cling on to such outdated ideas?

Pubs need to be viable businesses — simply hanging on to them out of misplaced sentimentality because they’re pubs, regardless of whether they’re dying on their feet, is only going to harm the whole of the trade in the long term.

We want thriving, interesting, successful businesses — not a trade populated with the dead and the dying who are kept hanging by the thread of an ACV order.

Meanwhile, the comments of Punch’s Stephen Billingham on the market rent only (MRO) option in the pubs code as the “one cloud that is hanging over us” seems a little unnecessary and smacks of scaremongering.

Yes, from my admittedly limited vantage point, MRO is something which has the potential to disrupt and change the marketplace — but my understanding of change and disruption is that it opens up as many opportunities as problems for those willing to look for them.

The MRO is a chance for pubcos like Punch to take a look at its operations and build new, stronger relationships with its tenants. If Punch want its tenants to remain within the existing system, they need to make it appealing to them to stay, change the model and who knows, you may even bring in new business along the way.

Yes, there are always going to be those who think the grass is greener and I’m not naive enough to assume that it’s a simple situation — this is a significant change in legislation which is opening up the pubcos to greater competition.

And the thing with competition is, you compete, or fall by the wayside. Railing against the legislation is a bit like shutting the door after the horse has bolted. Embrace change and make it work for you, not against you

Related topics Legislation

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