Paul Newby

Govt gathers evidence over pubs code adjudicator appointment

By Oli Gross contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pubs code adjudicator Paul Newby MRO

Related tags: Public house, Landlord, Paul newby

Licensees, campaigners and pubco leaders gave their views on the appointment of Paul Newby as pubs code adjudicator to the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Committee last week.

The Committee was gathering evidence after accusations of a conflict of interest from Newby from campaigners​, and can make recommendations to Government after reflecting on their views.

The adjudicator​ will be responsible for resolving disputes between tenants and pubcos, and investigating abuses of the code.

Dave Mountford, co-founder of the Pubs Advisory Service and licensee of Boat Inn, Matlock, Derbyshire gave evidence with Gary Mason, tied tenant at the Millwright Arms, Warwick and chartered surveyor Simon Clarke, a tied tenant for Enterprise Inns.

'Judge, jury and executioner'

Clarke reiterated concerns about Newby’s background with Fleurets​, and that Newby could act as “judge jury and executioner”.

Arguments in defence of Newby have focussed on his professionalism and ability to remain impartial, having worked for both tenants and pubcos.

“The idea that he’s professional so he can put this to one side; well professionals have guidelines on conflict of interest, and bizarrely in this situation Mr Newby will be writing his own guidelines on conflicts of interest - even though he has got them,” Clarke protested.

The Pubs Advisory’s Mountford argued Newby should never have applied for the role in the first place due to his work as a chartered surveyor in the industry which Clarke, also a chartered surveyor, echoed.

'Should not be a surveyor'

Mountford said: ““It should be somebody from outside the industry - a judge or retired lawyer. It should not be a surveyor. Mr Newby can’t win.

“I don’t see in any way shape or form how Mr Newby can be impartial. He has derived considerable income in the past from the pub companies.”

The two licensees, who have been relentless campaigners during the development of the pubs code, said they were more or less happy with the final code which will be a ‘great platform’ for the industry.

But there were concerns raised about pubcos ‘gaming’ the code, and trying to take back sites as managed houses.

Support

Tied tenant Mason complained of a lack of support and information provided about MRO in the build-up to the pubs code. His pub missed out on MRO due to the code’s delay, and allegedly hit with a 40% rent hike​.

Simon Townsend, chief executive of Enterprise Inns, and Stuart Gallyot, company secretary and director of legal and estates at Punch, also gave evidence. Neither had objection to the appointment of Newby.

“I am ambivalent about appointment of Newby as an individual and adjudicator,” Townsend said, adding he felt the adjudicator needed experience of the industry.

Gallyot added he believed Newby “can find balance between landlord and tenant” as Fleurets  “do advise an awful lot of normal tenants". 

Since the introduction of the code​ last week, Newby has reached out to both sides​, saying he is "here to help".

Related topics: Legislation

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