Labour MSP Neil Bibby lodges draft proposal for tied pub tenants

March 14th, 2017 | Posted in: News

Labour MSP Neil Bibby has lodged a draft proposal  in Holyrood backed by the  Scottish Licensed Trade Association, the Campaign for Real Ale and GMB Scotland, who all believe his proposal would make it fairer for tenants of pubs who have a ‘tied’ arrangement with pubcos. This would affect some 1,000 pubs in Scotland which are currently tenanted. A consultation on the proposal is set to open on Monday.

Under the current arrangements, tenants often have a contractual obligation to buy some or all products from the pubco that they lease from.  But MSP Neil Bibby’s draft proposal would bring Scotland into line with their counterparts in England and Wales, who now have a statutory Pub Code with has introduced more relaxed rules for licensees.

The MSP has lodged the draft proposal despite a new voluntary code recently being introduced in Scotland. The new Scottish code does not go as far as the statutory code in England and Wales.

Scottish Labour MSP Neil Bibby said, “This proposal is about fairness, choice and jobs. Fairness for Scotland’s publicans, greater choice for pub customers, and an opportunity to protect and create jobs in Scotland’s pub and brewing industry.

He continues, “Scottish pub tenants should have the ability to opt out of the tied arrangements if they wish. I know from speaking with tied pub tenants in my own area in the west of Scotland how one-sided these arrangements can be.

“Access to a fair and reasonable market rent for premises, without strings attached, should be a right for Scottish publicans. They will then be free to source and purchase products as they see fit, on the same basis as other pubs in Scotland, and pubs in England and Wales.

“Times are tough in the pub sector. Scottish licensees that choose to opt out should have the flexibility they need in a crowded and competitive market place to react to changes that could affect their business – from new pubs opening in their area to changes in the way people socialise. My proposal would give them that flexibility.”

Paul Waterson, chief executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said, “The SLTA are delighted to support Neil Bibby’s bill advocating protection for Scottish pub tenants. It is only fair that Scottish tenants are afforded the same rights and safeguards as their counterparts in England and Wales.”

Colin Valentine, CAMRA’s National Chairman, commented, “CAMRA fully welcomes the new consultation that has been launched into the tied pub sector by Neil Bibby. We expect that it will paint a picture of pubs struggling to survive across Scotland, with examples of large pub companies taking more than is fair or sustainable from individual publicans’ profits.”

While GMB Scotland Organiser Martin Doran said, “GMB Scotland supports the proposed Tied Pubs Bill because by tackling the pubco giants, it can deliver fairness for tied pubs tenants, give more choice for punters and help create a more level playing field for Scottish brewers.

“This intervention is not before time and our members will warmly welcome Neil Bibby’s efforts to bring about changes to the industry that can only benefit Scottish jobs and the Scottish economy in the long run.”

A consultation on the proposed Tied Pubs (Code and Adjudicator) (Scotland) Bill will formally open on Monday 20 February 2017 and will run to Tuesday 20 June 2017. The consultation document is attached.

At the end of the consultation period, all the responses will be analysed. Neil Bibby MSP then expects to lodge a final proposal in the Parliament along with a summary of those responses.

If that final proposal secures the support of at least 18 other MSPs from at least half of the political parties or groups represented in the Parliamentary Bureau, and the Scottish Government does not indicate that it intends to legislate in the area in question, he will then have the right to introduce a Member’s Bill.

A number of months may be required to finalise the Bill and related documentation. Once introduced, a Member’s Bill follows a three-stage scrutiny process, during which it may be amended or rejected outright. If it is passed at the end of the process, it becomes an Act.

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Susan Young
Susan Young is a journalist who has spent the last 20 years editing the DRAM. Prior to that, she spent a decade working in Public Relations and Events dealing with clients as diverse as Cumbernauld Development Agency and James Burrough Distillers. Her knowledge of the Scottish licensed trade is extensive and she also instigated the first ever Scottish licensed trade awards which have evolved into the Scottish Bar and Pub Awards.

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