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Pub Tenants Want Proof Of No Bias

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What is pub conciliation chief's position on key principle that a tied pub tenant be no worse off than a free of tie tenant asks GMB.

If chair Roger Vickers again fails to answer the question we will have to draw our own conclusions again about which team he plays for says GMB.

GMB, the union for tied pub tenants, has called on Roger Vickers chair of the Pub Independent Conciliation Advisory Service (PICAS) to clarify his position on the key principle that a tied pub tenant shall be no worse off than a free of tie tenant. This is the third time he has been asked to do so by tied pub tenants.

This question in an open letter from GMB responds to that of March 1st from Roger Vickers which dealt with GMB accusations of bias on his part. See notes to editors for copies of both open letters and a GMB press release accusing him of bias.

Dave Mountford, GMB branch secretary who represents pub tenants, says in the letter “The government have clearly embraced the principle that the tied tenant shall be no worse off than the free of tied tenant. This is at the heart of the consultation and is the starting point with regard to overall discussions.

In May 2012 the IPC wrote to you as the newly appointed chair of PICAS and asked “Is it your understanding that the RICS guidance, seeks to ensure a rental result that countervails the tied product price and that if followed correctly this should leave the tied tenant no worse, or better, off than if they were non tied?”

You chose not to answer this question and therefore the IPC wrote again clarifying the question and the reason for it. On this occasion you chose not to reply.

Therefore can you for the record confirm that you agree with the principle that the tied tenant shall be no worse off than the free of tie tenant?

This confirmation shall no doubt reassure any of those detractors that the PICA service is chaired by someone not only professionally able to hold the position, something you have demonstrated with your impressive credentials, but more importantly as someone who believes in the very principle that, when applied will have such a positive impact on so many tied tenants.

If you again fail to answer the question we will again have to draw our own conclusions."

End

Contact Dave Mountford 07794 021 212 or 01629 258 083 or 07916 154359 or GMB press office 07921 289880

Notes to editors

1 GMB open letter to Roger Vickers Chairman PICAS

Dear Mr Vickers

Following the publication of your recent open letter to the industry I felt it important that I respond with a view to perhaps giving you an opportunity to address the issues you clearly feel are in danger of what you describe as the "discrediting an increasingly powerful arbiter between tenants and Pub owning Companies"

 

Firstly however GMB does not feel what we said were “outlandish” assertions or “wild ideas” about you personally. We were simply reflecting reality that you played for the other team and as a consequence were not suited to a "referee" role. You getting the job in spite of playing for the other team were the main reason I put myself forward as vice chair to balance the ticket.

Having reviewed my comments regarding your appointment I think my points are as valid now as they were when they were made. In your letter with careful choice of words you again seek to down play your role for the other team.

You will remember in November 2011 the industry was awaiting with baited breath the Government’s response to the latest BISC enquiries into the relationship between tenants and Pub owning Companies, which I am sure you will agree was quite damming. It was therefore quite disappointing for many that the recommendations made by Adrian Bailey were largely ignored and self-regulation given another chance to work.

The announcement of an Independent body to investigate breaches of Codes of Practice was therefore understandably a lifeline to those expecting so much but left with very little.

It would be fair to say that this industry is riven with conflicts of interest – Rob May’s position as RICS Rental valuation controller sits uncomfortably with many when combined with his positions as Enterprises national rent controller is an example.

Therefore I would have expected the BII to take these points on board and think carefully about the impartiality of the Chairman of such an organisation. The decision to appoint someone who was representing Punch Taverns in two very high profile rent review cases was I believe a mistake and placed you in a difficult position. How could you be seen to be able to act in an impartial manner when you undertook work for then, largest Pub owning Company in the Country?

I fear you have created a further rod for your own back by being, what could be easily be interpreted as misleading in your letter, when you state that you have not worked for any Pub companies in rent review cases “becoming effective over the last 5 years”. Technically true as neither myself nor George Scott’s case did become “effective” as both were settled before a rental figure could be agreed. However to those in the industry not furnished with the true facts this statement could easily be interpreted as meaning you have never worked for a Pubco in the last 5 years, something that is clearly not accurate.

However leaving that aside I feel that any concerns that the "vocal minority" may have can be easily allayed by you addressing a simple question.

The government have clearly embraced the principle that the tied tenant shall be no worse off than the free of tied tenant. This is at the heart of the consultation and is the starting point with regard to overall discussions.

In May 2012 the IPC wrote to you as the newly appointed chair of PICAS and asked "Is it your understanding that the RICS guidance, seeks to ensure a rental result that countervails the tied product price and that if followed correctly this should leave the tied tenant no worse, or better, off than if they were non tied?"

You chose not to answer this question and therefore the IPC wrote again clarifying the question and the reason for it. On this occasion you chose not to reply.

Therefore can you for the record confirm that you agree with the principle that the Tied tenant shall be no worse off than the free of tie tenant?

This confirmation shall no doubt reassure any of those detractors that the PICA service is chaired by someone not only professionally able to hold the position, something you have demonstrated with your impressive credentials, but more importantly as someone who believes in the very principle that, when applied will have such a positive impact on so many tied tenants.

If you again fail to answer the question we will have to draw our own conclusions.

I look forward to your considered response

Dave Mountford

2 Roger Vicars open letter of 1 March 2013. The letter is as follows:

To whom it may concern,

It is now a year since I was appointed chair of PICA-Service. But, having reviewed the recent industry submissions to the Business, Innovation & Skills Committee (BISC), it’s clear that one or two people still have some wild ideas about me, and my role.

It was never my intention to address the outlandish assertions made about me by a very vocal minority since last January, but a campaign by a few individuals is in danger of discrediting what is an increasingly powerful arbiter of the relationship between tenants and pub-owning companies. Indeed, what swung it was when I became aware that some of the mud thrown had actually been quoted by one back-bench MP, as fact.

Therefore, if you will excuse the indulgence, I would like to use this opportunity to set out a few facts, explain a bit more about me and my role — and also to address head-on, some of the myths.

Before working as an advisor to the Pubs Independent Rent Review Scheme (PIRRS) board, I had absolutely no prior involvement with the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers or Guild of Master Victuallers. I had lectured at a series of road shows for the BII (British Institute of Innkeeping) and had a relatively strong relationship with the Federation of Licensed Victuallers Associations (FLVA); I had spoken at its conferences and had co-written various publications with their highly-respected former chief executive Tony Payne. I was recipient of the FLVA’s Certificate of Merit in respect of the work I had carried out for the tenanted industry.

In the same way that I do not have any connections with the BBPA, neither do I have any strong connections with any pub companies or pub company directors. While over the past 40-odd years I have come to know many people within the industry, there is no-one other than the licensees of my two 'locals', the aforementioned Tony Payne and a certain Nigel Williams, who was until a couple of weeks ago president of the FLVA, who could claim to be friends.

I have not acted for any pub companies in rent review cases becoming effective over the past five years. However, in that time I have acted on behalf of a number of tenants in rent review cases against pub companies. Details of the cases I have been involved in are freely available on the PIRRS website.

I am both a chartered surveyor and a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. I am debarred by the rules and regulations of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (and by my professional insurance) from dealing with anything other than work where I stand as arbitrator, independent expert or expert witness. I do not undertake licensed property valuations, sales or lettings. These activities, like being appointed to the PICA-Service chair or its panel, are subject to stringent conflict of interest tests.

Arbitration is a quasi-judicial process: I either receive written evidence or chair tribunals before issuing my award (decision). In cases of independent expert determinations, the parties put their case to me and I arrive at my decision. Expert witness work may concern preparing an expert report to put before an arbitrator or independent expert, but usually relates to providing a view to a judge or court — it is the duty of the expert to help the court.

An expert must be impartial and must not stray from the duties of an expert witness. I believe that individuals such as myself have a duty to give expert evidence. Such instructions usually emanate from solicitors and expert witnesses must not distinguish between solicitors representing landlords or those representing tenants.

As you can probably gather, I could write a book. However, as chair of a tribunal formed at the request of Government, I do not intend to become involved in further correspondence or indeed participate in the lively online forums or blogs.

I would urge anyone interested in further information to visit the PIRRS website. I believe that the PIRRS board has reiterated its open invitation for members of BISC to observe future PICA-Service hearings.

Yours sincerely

Rodger Vickers

3 GMB press release 1 Feb 2012

Ed Davey has been taken for gullible fool as punch man is appointed to chair "independant" pub disputes panel

Bias is so blatant that appointing Rodger Vickers is the equivalent of the FA appointing Sir Alex Ferguson to referee a game between Manchester United and Liverpool says GMB.

GMB, the union for pub tied tenants, commented on the news that Rodger Vickers from Punch Taverns will chair the newly-formed Pub Independent Conciliation Advisory Service (PICAS) deal with disputes about matters other than rents between pubcos and tenants.

Paul Maloney, GMB national officer for pub tenants said "Ed Davey has been taken as a gullible fool by the pub industry. Appointing Rodger Vickers is the equivalent of the FA appointing Sir Alex Ferguson to referee a game between Manchester United and Liverpool. The bias is that blatant.

Vickers is part of BBPA to his last sinew so GMB members can expect him to press the cases of the pubcos. Even today he is in the pub of a GMB member pressing the case for a 60% rent increase in the middle of a recession.

This new PICAS, which we are told will be up and running at the end of February, is part of the self-regulation deal between the British Beer & Pub Association and the Government in the wake of the Business, Innovation & Skills Committee (BISC) report which Ed Davey signed off.

PICAS will operate alongside another toothless body PIRRS (Pubs Independent Rent Review Scheme) where Vickers has also been an advisor since 2009. PICAS remit is disputes other than rents and will have the same dismal record as PIRRS. MPs on BIS Select Committee need to probe why Ed Davey has proved such a soft touch.

The underlying issue not being tackled at all is sky high rent that have pushed the price of a pint £1 above the level justified by inflation and changes in taxation. This has priced pubs out of the market. This additional revenue ends up offshore paying pubco bondholders in tax havens.

BBPA, which justifies this rip off culture, has the bare faced cheek to launch a campaign for tax breaks as its members blatantly shovel money offshore into tax havens".

End

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