Monday, April 07, 2014

Rhys Ifans on the pub

The pub is the internet. It’s where information is gathered, collated and addressed. People are looser in a pub and everyone’s got a story. Even as a kid I used to stand under the extractor vent in the winter outside the pub and feel the warm air, smell the beer, smell the Woodbines and hear the voices laughing and telling stories.A pub can be a magical place. It’s socially crucial to the whole of Britain. In fact, the pub is like a watering hole. You’ll see all the animals standing around a lake and getting on because they want a drink; you take them away from the lake and they fall out with each other or worse. Every species has its pub. - Rhys Ifans

Monday, March 17, 2014


Fifteen years ago, I told my parents of pubco's: 'they hire dysfunctional bullies who enjoy seeing people squirm when they are powerless to do anything to stand up to them, it's like an unsupervised school playground where the bullies are free to do whatever they want.'

My dad said 'listen to yourself Mark, anyone outside of this conversation would say you're paranoid and delusional, why would any company behave the way you are describing them? None of it makes any sense'.

Boy were we both right

Saturday, March 15, 2014

More on the #GreatBritishPubcoScam

Martyn I consider what I post and how it may be interpreted. I'm not bothered about damaging a campaign or how as you describe a shouty sweary post may affect my standing. There's too much bollocks in the pub sector and the people no one takes notice of in all of its debates are the people who really run the industry, the day to day Publicans. We're constantly patronised and looked down upon by people like you, self appointed hobbyist arbiters of half truth.

What's been happening for the last two decades as tens of thousands of pubs have suffered chronic underinvestment leading to mass failure of the sector is a massive cultural crime. It's a premeditated plundering of Britain's most fundamental, viscerally significant icons of our way of life that offer communities everywhere some of the deepest foundations of their sense of place. It's not a matter of opinion; it's manifested on every community all over the UK.

It's been brushed off by people like you broadly as immutable market forces. When the true market force has been simple asset stripping of our cultural heritage on a historically unimaginable scale.

If people can't take notice when facts from the shop floor exposing the truth about what's been happening in the pub sector are delivered to the press and to government in the correct polite manner and perennially ignored there's a case for shouting and swearing about it because it's totally out of order that a bunch of white collar criminals running a few pubco's should run away from the pub sector with £hundreds of millions leaving the people of Britain with a landscape of broken pubs and communities bereft of unique, vital social hubs. If people can't take notice of the bleeding obvious then the odd considered shout and expletive is not out of place.

Politeness gets us nowhere so what the fuck does it matter if swearing doesn't either?

No. I'm not bothered it may damage an honest cause.  I'm bothered about balance and openness and fairness, and about getting things done before ALL the horses have bolted.

Punch have recently taken to arguing that a pub, by nature of their being other pubs nearby, cannot rationally  be considered an Asset of Community Value as people can simply use other pubs. At the same time they've become landlords to Tesco, having decided to dispense with the charade of selling to developers who specialise in flipping over to alternative use. What can be more blatant evidence of what's going on as the pubcos pretend to update codes of practice they're flogging off whatever they can whenever possible. The other side of the evidence that proves the lie that these pubs are no longer wanted and are 'economically unviable' as Punch / Enterprise et Al would have it is that in many cases there's a community campaigning to try to save the pub for themselves and posterity, knowing that these pubs will thrive when invested in, brought up to contemporary customer expectations and well run. Most people know there's no such thing as a bad pub, only one that's badly managed. The pubco's have been the worst management the pub sector has ever experienced.

I'm sick to death of this tucked up corrupted backwater of an industry. I'm appalled by the persistent lies, obfuscations, deceits and perennial denial of bad practice and cover up of criminal activity.

The People's Pub Partnership project is NOT a campaign.. It's a proposal to create a people powered pub company that's operated profitably for the right reasons. For the preservation of healthy communities, their people and their pubs.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Pubco's got their noses in the trough

This article appears in the current edition of Wetherspoon News

...  "The main additional reason for pub distress is the high level of debt assumed by some pub companies in the years running up to the credit crunch.

Two of the main architects of the debt-fuelled pub boom were Guy Hands, formerly of Japanese bank Nomura, and Hugh Osmond, a financier who has been involved in substantial debt-raising exercises in respect of public companies. In essence, Hands and Osmond bought the large tenanted pub estates of the major brewers, using borrowed money, and then hiked up the rents and the beer prices paid by the tenants. As a result of the increased income which they generated, they were able, in effect, to remortgage the pubs, extracting tens of millions of pounds of ‘profit’ for themselves.

The problem, in my opinion, is that the so-called ‘business model’ which they helped to pioneer was unsustainable – and thousands of tenants have gone to the wall – and thousands of pubs have closed. Not all pub closures were formerly tenancies, but very many were. After Hands, Osmond and their acolytes and imitators sold out, the majority of the pubs in the tenanted estates ended up with public companies called Enterprise Inns and Punch Taverns. They continued to buy pubs and increase debt (as well as continuing to increase rents and beer prices for tenants) right up until the credit crunch hit.

When the individual licensees/tenants started to suffer between the hammer of high rents and beer prices and the anvil of the tax-subsidised supermarkets, unprecedented numbers of publicans went bankrupt – and the Enterprise and Punch shares plummeted on the stock market to a fraction of their former value."

Tim Martin is chairman and founder of JD Wetherspoon.

Sunday, February 23, 2014