Last week PCA Paul Newby published a regulatory compliance handbook, setting out how he expected POBs covered by the pubs code to act in a "number of important areas" following deep concerns about the way some were "treating tied pub tenants when they requested a market-rent-only (MRO) option proposal".
The handbook contains minimum standards dealing with areas such as communications and engagement with tenants. Another major focus is the behaviour of business development managers, particularly following a tenant's request for an MRO option.
However, commenting on the handbook, BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “While we welcome these examples of best practice in code compliance, there is a concern this could create another level of complexity, in addition to the existing code.
“It does, however, reflect discussions between the CEOs of individual companies covered by the statutory code and the adjudicator and we believe we are already adhering to much of this proposed best practice."
Clarity and consistency
She continued: “We will continue to engage with the PCA‘s office in a positive way and ensure the code works as it should for all parties, with clarity and consistency for all concerned.”
The three main concerns identified by the PCA were the way some tied pub tenants are treated by POBs when they request an MRO proposal; the time and expense involved in arbitrations; and the lack of clarity in the code, especially on the MRO vehicle.
Newby said he recognised there had been "concern and frustration with the operation of the pubs code", but believed with this new handbook and other measures the PCA now has "an action plan that will deliver real progress".
The handbook is meant to be a starting point and the PCA said it will be inviting POBs to build on and add to this advice. It will also be providing updates to the handbook to deal with additional issues and developments, it said.
Both Star Pubs & Bars and the Ei Group said they supported the BBPA's comment on the matter.