It was bound to happen, the day after you submit your piece saying there is no action regarding the pub tie and the pub companies treatment of tenants they announce statutory code and a parliamentary debate on the topic.  However I’m glad that things are now moving forward regarding this.  The pub companies and the trade bodies they dominate are crying foul saying that self regulation was not given a chance to prove itself, but they only have themselves to blame. If they took less than a year to agree an industry framework and then appeared not to want to drag out implementation as long as possible, it would have been given a chance, but the fact is that the government didn’t trust them to do the job themselves and were left no option.

Looking at the actual proposed legislation they are taking the existing self regulatory framework and bolstering it up, with the addition of a fair dealing provision which will cover all areas of the code, and a principle that tied houses should be no worse off than free of tie houses.  They would ensure that beer and rent pricing is fair and could investigate and intervene if this is not the case.  They would also have some powers to fine the companies if needed.  The new legislation will be put out for a short consultation period in the spring which is estimated to last 6 weeks and then will be enacted as soon as possible after this.    Let hope by the start of the autumn session of parliament we have the legal protection in place which landlords deserve.

The legislation will be used against pub companies with more than 500 outlets, of which there are about 6 at present.  Companies smaller than this are perceived to be treating their tenants fairly.  There is some concern that the larger pub companies who will be affected by this legislation will revert back to the old fashioned tenanted model with a 3 to 5 year duration to fall below this threshold, but such a re-organisation will take a substantial number of man hours and therefore cost money, would the extra profits made from the new arrangement cover the cost of such a change? I doubt it, so I see the big 6 pub companies quietly complying with the new statutory code after a period of vociferous complaint.

I don’t normally listen to political debates and would not recommend this routinely as it will have you shouting back in frustration telling them to get on with it.  I listened to the full debate regarding this topic and I’ve come to a few conclusions, firstly I’m sure MPs are paid by their ability to waffle and complement each other at every opportunity, the debate could have been about a ? of the length and not have missed any of the pertinent points. Secondly, the pubs which were endorsed in this debate by various MPs was numerous and wide ranging, I’m sure a few free pints are due on the return to their constituencies.  There were some very interesting points raised and a general consensus of agreement between the various political parties prevailed, however it would have been nice to have seen a few more MP’s turn up and earn their £66,000 a year, the pub is central to all their constituencies and they should be supporting them wherever possible.

Finally this week, we sadly lost Bramsche in Todmorden, which closed its doors after just over a year of business.  It was a bar I really liked, nicely done out, good with children, good selection of bottled and cask ale, good coffee and nice food.  Lets hope it opens again soon under new management with the same philosophy.  There has been interest in leasing the venue according to its owner, so new arrangements sooner rather than later would be preferable.

The fact that I have lost two of my favourite drinking holes in the last 3 months is sad, but the opposing fact is that we are gaining good pubs in the area faster than we are losing them, the new openings of the Old Gate and Cross Keys, the re-opening of the Shoulder and Mutton, Railway Inn and Dusty Miller after the floods of 2012 more than outweigh these losses.  Let hope this continues going forward this year.