Pubs code: "We've won the war- now we must win the peace"

By Emily Sutherland

- Last updated on GMT

The Government published its response to the pubs code consultation last week
The Government published its response to the pubs code consultation last week

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The trade must come together and strive to make the statutory pubs code a success after the Government published its divisive response to the consultation, according to one award-winning licensee.

Department of Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) minister Anna Soubry said last week she knew she had ‘upset the pubcos’ by refusing to allow a six month transition period before the code was enforced, a decision labelled by British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Brigid Simmonds as “unworkable.”

Read: Q & A on the pubs code and MRO: What it means for licensees and how it will impact your pub

Simmonds said she would be seeking an urgent meeting with BIS ministers over the lack of a transition period and the high level of investment required for a market-rent only waiver. The minimum level of investment needed for pubcos to waive MRO will be 200% of the dry rent and will only be available to sitting tenants, not those going into an empty pub.

Punch boss Duncan Garood and Admiral Taverns CEO Kevin Georgel have both said they have serious concerns about the trade’s ability to implement the code with less than six weeks to go before it is introduced.

Garood said: “We are very concerned at the lack of any form of transitionary measures given this legislation comes into force in only 41 days.”

‘Won the war- now win the peace’

However, BII licensee of the year Keith Marsden, who runs the Prince of Wales in Moseley, Birmingham, told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser​ the time had come for the trade to move forward.

“The code is almost here. We have won the war, but now we must win the peace. It was bloody and acrimonious for years. I went to protests, gave evidence to committees and lobbied every-
one we could find. But now we need to move forward. Now we need to come together and take on other challenges that confront
the industry. Individual grudges and personal agendas will only be a force for continued disharmony.

“We need to stop looking in the rear view mirror. MRO is a great opportunity to bring the industry together so we can get on with life. Pubcos deserved the legislation, but making them ex-tinct is not the answer. We need change, not for them
to die out.”

‘Stability and certainty’

Others in the trade have welcomed the Government’s response. Chris Wright, head of the Pubs Advisory Service, said: “We are delighted that the minister listened to tenants groups and have reflected member’s views in the
Government’s response. We now have law that no-one thought we could get. It isn’t perfect, but it’s an extraordinary step forward.”

Association of Licensed Retailers (ALMR) chief executive Kate Nicholls added that the publication brought “a much needed sense of clarity that should give licensees the stability they need to move forward”.

“The uncertainty surrounding the details of the code has had a major impact on investment and planning across the sector,” she said. “Businesses need stability and certainty in order to function effectively and
this lack of security and concern over particulars of the code has not made life easier for licensees.”

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