Let's judge the pubs code adjudicator by his actions

By Ed Bedington

- Last updated on GMT

Let's judge the pubs code adjudicator by his actions

Related tags: Paul newby, Royal institution of chartered surveyors

Within minutes of the announcement, the howls of outrage could be heard right the way across social media. The appointment of a surveyor to the post of pubs code adjudicator has certainly caused waves, particularly within the anti-pub company campaign group.

Some are even already calling for Paul Newby’s resignation​, before the man has even taken up the reins.

Accusations were being hurled across the floor of the Commons, and claims of “bias” and “poor journalism” flung at will on Twitter over the reporting of the debate.

Needless to say, tempers were high and emotions were ruling the day.

There appeared to be a lack of consideration to a lot of the objections, almost a knee-jerk reaction to news of the appointment. Even the very method in which the announcement was made came under attack with business minister Anna Soubry’s right and proper actions of announcing the news first to the Commons described as “shambolic”.

The rush to judgement was so fast even Usain Bolt would have been impressed.

Of course, there are serious questions to be asked, and rightly so. People are within their rights to question areas such as conflict of interest, and whether Newby’s role fits within the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) codes.

However, those questions run the risk of being drowned out by the usual bellowing from the sidelines, and we run the risk of serious concerns being dismissed amid all the noise and nonsense.

Assumptions were being made, for example, that Newby would remain in position at Fleurets while taking on the new role, and arguments then based on those assumptions to call for the man’s head.

The claims that Newby, an independent surveyor, was in the pocket of the pubcos were being bandied about, ignoring the fact that Newby has worked on both sides of the fence as an “independent expert” and there are a number of licensees singing his praises for when he advised successfully on their behalf against those pubcos he’s allegedly in the pocket of.

The accusations of conflict of interest do need exploring in more depth, but while campaigners are quick to point to the RICS guidelines, RICS itself sees no cause for concern. Perhaps they’re in the pocket of the pubcos as well…

ltimately, the appointment of the adjudicator was never going to please everyone and there’s some truth to the claims that perhaps a more neutral person would have been a more sensible choice. But Newby is a man who understands the systems, he’s negotiated on both sides of the fence as an “independent advisor” and as such will be able to hit the ground running.

If there are conflicts of interest, then we should remain vigilant and ensure they are dealt with. In the rush to judgement on this, I fear reason has fallen by the wayside. I would rather judge Newby by his actions in the role, rather than by knee-jerk assumptions made in the heat of the moment.

Related topics: Legislation

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