Call to regulate big pub chains as trade continues to decline in Bolton

The number of pubs closing in Bolton is increasing.

The number of pubs closing in Bolton is increasing.

First published in Politics The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , politics reporter

CALLS have been made for a new watchdog to regulate big pub chains — as the number of Bolton pubs closing increases.

The Campaign for Real Ale has collected more than 43,000 signatures asking for more legislation to help pubs which are at risk of closure.

David Crausby, MP for Bolton North East, joined a group of licensees, consumers and brewers to present the petition to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

They hope that terms for a new Pub Watchdog — which would ensure rents on premises and wholesale prices do not leave publicans out of pocket — will be included in this year’s Queen’s Speech.

Mr Crausby said: “Pubs are a key part of our local community and contribute a great deal to our economy, but we are seeing many facing closure.

"A government consultation in 2013 concluded that a change in the law is needed, but they’re running out of parliamentary time and our pubs can’t afford to keep on waiting.

"I hope that the government will listen to this petition and take action to help our pubs before the end of this parliament.”

Don Chattwood, treasurer and pubs officer at Bolton CAMRA, has charted the demise of pubs in Bolton as part of the group’s ongoing campaign to keep pubs alive and vibrant in the town.

Between 1982 and 2005 he has found 51 pubs closed in Bolton — an average of two a year — but since 2006, more than 60 have shut.

The petition wants more action taken to control prices set by big pub operators, such as Punch Taverns, Wetherspoons and Marstons.

Mr Chattwood said the group is keen to see the Government take action.

He said: “We have seen an acceleration in pub closures in Bolton — a lot of this isn’t necessarily down to reform, but part of a general situation about population changes and a trend of places being sold off to become supermarkets.

"A watchdog would set up a statutory code and independent adjudicator, to ensure a tied tenant is no worse off than a free tenant — the prices that some of them have to pay is very high compared with someone who can deal directly with the breweries.

“We’d like to see people make more use of their local and go in there — that way it keeps them trading and helps the licensees.”

Comments (6)

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5:11pm Thu 29 May 14

007mcfod says...

do the people involved in this project understand why the prices are higher, and why they could never in all sense be the same as a free house? as a tied tenant you are generally receiving many of the other associated costs of running a pub included as part of your beer price, because the pubCo has funded it and is recouping their investment back through the barrelage. The answer is simple - if you want to run your own businesses free of any ties and obligations, do your research, write a business plan, and open it yourself, and dont rely on the general publics tax money to put together a department to regulate it. If your not happy with the terms of the contract they offer - dont sign it - find a pubCo who's terms you do like.
do the people involved in this project understand why the prices are higher, and why they could never in all sense be the same as a free house? as a tied tenant you are generally receiving many of the other associated costs of running a pub included as part of your beer price, because the pubCo has funded it and is recouping their investment back through the barrelage. The answer is simple - if you want to run your own businesses free of any ties and obligations, do your research, write a business plan, and open it yourself, and dont rely on the general publics tax money to put together a department to regulate it. If your not happy with the terms of the contract they offer - dont sign it - find a pubCo who's terms you do like. 007mcfod
  • Score: 2

5:35pm Thu 29 May 14

m.nealon says...

The sensible answer is to emulate Wetherspoons. Don't blame this organisation. They are always packed right across the country which proves they have got it right. The tied pubs have to obey the breweries who control the prices charged. They are ignoring what's happening because they are selling in bulk to supermarkets. My parents had two pubs tied to a brewery. As soon as the takings increased the rent went up. If the pub was refurbished the rent went up. You were not allowed to buy beer wines and spirits from anywhere other than the brewery that owned the pub. You were committed to selling at prices controlled by what they charged. If pubs were given the option to drop prices they would be full yo the brim like Wetherspoons. The traditional British pub has not died naturally they have been murdered by sheer greed and utter stupidity.
The sensible answer is to emulate Wetherspoons. Don't blame this organisation. They are always packed right across the country which proves they have got it right. The tied pubs have to obey the breweries who control the prices charged. They are ignoring what's happening because they are selling in bulk to supermarkets. My parents had two pubs tied to a brewery. As soon as the takings increased the rent went up. If the pub was refurbished the rent went up. You were not allowed to buy beer wines and spirits from anywhere other than the brewery that owned the pub. You were committed to selling at prices controlled by what they charged. If pubs were given the option to drop prices they would be full yo the brim like Wetherspoons. The traditional British pub has not died naturally they have been murdered by sheer greed and utter stupidity. m.nealon
  • Score: 13

5:55pm Thu 29 May 14

m.nealon says...

I just passed my comments relating go Wetherspoons getting it right. I felt it necessary to add further comments.

Are the people complaining saying that they would prefer pubs to charge £3 a pint or more or would they prefer to pay around £2.25 a pint as Wetherspoons charge? Some pubs in Bolton charge less than that.

As I said, get the price right like Wetherspoons and you will make a fortune. If you can't sell it for 80 pence why put the price up to £1? That is what most seem to do and it doesn't make sense. A full pub says it all. Right across the board be it BUS fares or trains. The complaint usually is we are losing money so we have to put the fares up. If they drop the prices they would reap the benefits.
I just passed my comments relating go Wetherspoons getting it right. I felt it necessary to add further comments. Are the people complaining saying that they would prefer pubs to charge £3 a pint or more or would they prefer to pay around £2.25 a pint as Wetherspoons charge? Some pubs in Bolton charge less than that. As I said, get the price right like Wetherspoons and you will make a fortune. If you can't sell it for 80 pence why put the price up to £1? That is what most seem to do and it doesn't make sense. A full pub says it all. Right across the board be it BUS fares or trains. The complaint usually is we are losing money so we have to put the fares up. If they drop the prices they would reap the benefits. m.nealon
  • Score: 11

10:15pm Thu 29 May 14

bernie boy says...

A watchdog to regulate big pub chains, is that a joke? When local butchers, green grocers and fishmongers went out of business because supermarkets were cheaper, did these same people call for a watchdog to be set up to regulate the industry? No, they were too busy buying cheap groceries. Why do people only express concern when a situation effects them directly? Pubs have been ripping off the public at large for years, and now we're all supposed to care.
A watchdog to regulate big pub chains, is that a joke? When local butchers, green grocers and fishmongers went out of business because supermarkets were cheaper, did these same people call for a watchdog to be set up to regulate the industry? No, they were too busy buying cheap groceries. Why do people only express concern when a situation effects them directly? Pubs have been ripping off the public at large for years, and now we're all supposed to care. bernie boy
  • Score: 3

10:34pm Thu 29 May 14

NorthernHead says...

The whole point is that most tied pubs are no longer tied to breweries who actually care about beer, its quality or its price. They are tied to Pub Companies who are property companies using pub as leverage to service huge debts. They attract tenants on attractive terms before extracting every last penny from them in excessive rents and by massively over-charging for their beer. The PubCos either simply move on to do the same with future tenants or let the pub gradually wither so that they can sell it on for other use. Successive studies have shown that they use unethical and immoral business practices and that they have miserably failed to enact a very limited voluntary code. The government promised to enforce controls last year but has failed to do anything yet and this is their last chance before the election. Anyone would think some of these big companies are pulling some strings somewhere.
The whole point is that most tied pubs are no longer tied to breweries who actually care about beer, its quality or its price. They are tied to Pub Companies who are property companies using pub as leverage to service huge debts. They attract tenants on attractive terms before extracting every last penny from them in excessive rents and by massively over-charging for their beer. The PubCos either simply move on to do the same with future tenants or let the pub gradually wither so that they can sell it on for other use. Successive studies have shown that they use unethical and immoral business practices and that they have miserably failed to enact a very limited voluntary code. The government promised to enforce controls last year but has failed to do anything yet and this is their last chance before the election. Anyone would think some of these big companies are pulling some strings somewhere. NorthernHead
  • Score: 5

9:13am Sun 1 Jun 14

JustBecause says...

"Mr Crausby said: “Pubs are a key part of our local community and contribute a great deal to our economy, "

Maybe 30 years ago, not today, get out of the past. Most independents are buying cheap alternatives from far away, they contribute little to the local community.

Old country pubs with food will survive, the "local" is dead, there is more to do in the evening than prop up a local bar now, times have moved on.
"Mr Crausby said: “Pubs are a key part of our local community and contribute a great deal to our economy, " Maybe 30 years ago, not today, get out of the past. Most independents are buying cheap alternatives from far away, they contribute little to the local community. Old country pubs with food will survive, the "local" is dead, there is more to do in the evening than prop up a local bar now, times have moved on. JustBecause
  • Score: 0

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