Newby’s radio comments on PCA role spark anger

By Georgina Townshend

- Last updated on GMT

Under fire: pubs code adjudicator Paul Newby
Under fire: pubs code adjudicator Paul Newby

Related tags: Pubs code, Landlord, Paul newby

Pubs code adjudicator (PCA) Paul Newby has been slammed for the way he described his role in enforcing the pubs code during an interview with BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme this week.

The programme was examining how well new rules for pubs, brought in last summer, are working because the PCA has faced vocal opposition to his appointment and criticism of his progress.

Explaining his job to the interviewer, Newby said: “I’m here to return to the fundamental principles to ensure there is fair and lawful dealing, and that a tenant electing to go into the free-of-tie channel, the market-rent-only (MRO) option, should be no worse off than a tied tenant.”

However, the PCA’s comments sparked anger from the Punch Tenant Network, which said it is “not the same thing” as the official description – which states the adjudicator should ensure “that tied pub tenants should not be worse off than they would be if they were not subject to any product or service tie”.

Chris Lindesay, from the Punch Tenant Network, said: “After careful listening and recognising that the segment was recorded and, if he misspoke, it could easily have been corrected, it seems clear that Mr Newby’s description of his role is not a slip of the tongue.

“It is certainly a conflation of the prime principle of the legislation with another related one in the code itself that the “tenant choosing to opt for the MRO option must not suffer detriment” (pubs code section 10 clause 50) in other words subjected to unusual and onerous new conditions.”

Last summer, about 12,000 tenants were given new rights and protections under the pubs code after tied tenants of pubcos owning more than 500 pubs including Punch, Ei, Greene King, Admiral Star and Marston’s received the legal right to take up the MRO option.

But just months later, campaigners called for Newby’s resignation following claims he had failed to act in in the interests of tenants, and was therefore unfit for the office.

‘A bit embattled’

During the interview, BBC presenter Winifred Robinson said: “Disappointed landlords, they are already blaming you aren’t they? They fear their expectations are not going to be met.”

Newby responded: “I have enormous respect for the people who have fought for this for a long time,” he said.

“I understand there is a group that is opposed to me. I have repeatedly invited them to come and meet me to discuss their concerns. They have not unfortunately accepted that. I repeat that invitation.”

Robinson continued to ask if Newby was feeling “a bit embattled”.

“It has been a challenge, I did come into this job because I felt I could make a difference,” he said.

“I have worked on both sides of the industry and I understand, in particular, the position some tenants find themselves in. I am working very hard to make this pubs code work.”

Newby has been contacted for a response, but has not yet come back to The Morning Advertiser.

As part of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015, the secretary of state must seek to ensure that the pubs code is consistent with:

(A) The principle of fair and lawful dealing by pub-owning businesses in relation to their tied pub tenants

(B) The principle that tied pub tenants should not be worse off than they would be if they were not subject to any product or service tie

Related topics: Legislation

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