Friday, 8 July 2011

At which point does a groundswell become a tsunami?

The BISC inquiry into the pub trade has heard calls for a statutory control of the industry from the Independent Pub Confederation as the years of inaction by pubcos to put their own houses in order has resulted in the decimation of this vital social and economic institution … the great British pub.

Self regulation is like asking playground bullies to decide amongst themselves just how much lunch money they will extort from other children … it hasn’t worked in the press and it hasn’t worked in the pub industry.

No wonder Ms Simmonds of the BBPA (which as we all know really only represents brewers and pubcos not tenants or free-traders) would prefer that HMG “would concentrate on other things”. Let’s face it she and the BBPA would never bite the hands that feed them and her (and her organisation’s) entire raison d’etre is to spin and deflect attention away from the sharp practices of her paymasters.

With the professional bodies such as the BII and RICS prevaricating and vacillating for similar reasons as the BBPA it is no wonder that MPs are adopting a more strident tone with the likes of Enterprise and Punch.

It is becoming ever more apparent (even to Parliament) that the BBPA is a trade body for the brewers and the pubcos and that groups such as the Independent Pub Confederation are more likely to be the true representatives of publicans.

The outrageous behaviour of Peter Rachman (and his ilk) was curtailed by HMG in the 1965 Rent Act and legislation to control corporations that are causing as much, if not more, harm to its victims is long overdue.

It cannot just be about proscribing an effective code of practice though.

It must also enshrine elements of natural justice so that tenant and landlord share equally the risk and rewards of operating pubs. It must ensure the sustainability of tenant businesses (not to be confused with subsidising sub-standard operators) and end the indentured servitude of thousands of families in this country that would be deplored elsewhere in the world.

We all hate the Nanny State but at some point Nanny has to intervene when certain children resolutely refuse to play nicely.

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