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Tuesday 30 April 2013

TPA – Pub Policy Reality

[Update at end of post]

Last week, the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) took grave exception to efforts by Business Secretary Vince Cable to curb the exploitative tendencies of the PubCos, those groups who own thousands of public houses, and under whose less than benign stewardship, almost half the country’s landlords are having to get by on less than £15,000 a year.

The TPA consider anything that interferes with the relationship between the PubCos and their tenants to be A Bad Thing, so it has to be concluded that they are in favour of the way these groups go about their business, which, as I’ve pointed out previously, includes selling viable pub businesses and closing premises just so they can cash in on the property’s value.

Yes, the TPA has recently run a campaign claiming to be on the side of beer drinkers, but they have been silent over the case of the Caledonia, and will continue so to be. This traditional street corner pub in Liverpool was recently rescued by enterprising tenant Laura King, who turned the place into a thriving real ale outlet, offering live music and a safe place to enjoy a pint.

This was not sufficient for owners Admiral Taverns who, despite the Caledonia not having been offered for sale previously, received an offer they decided they could not refuse, agreed to sell without bothering to ask Ms King or her customers what they thought, and gave her not very much notice of forced closure. The Caledonia is set to shut its doors for the last time on May 26.

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has mobilised in support of the Caledonia, but there is little it can do: this is a straightforward property transaction and I’ve no doubt that Admiral Taverns have acted within the terms of the lease that Ms King signed when she took the pub on, even though, only last November, they lauded the pub as “an integral part of the Liverpool music scene”.

So what will the TPA do? The answer is, they will do nothing. This dubiously talented collection of non-job holders will keep their heads down and hope nobody notices that they advocate no curbs on the PubCos who, on a daily basis, are cashing in their property chips and selling profitable businesses from under their tenants. This is the reality of the TPA’s commitment to beer drinkers.

Before the doors close for the last time, I’ll be visiting the Caledonia. Many more from the north west will be doing the same. No doubt the media will descend briefly on the area. But the TPA will not be there, unable and unwilling to face the reality of their preferred solution to the problems of the licenced trade.

Because, as I’ve keep stressing, the TPA is not a grassroots organisation, but an Astroturf lobby group pushing an ideology. Ordinary people don’t matter to them.

[UPDATE 1650 hours: as the Echo has now reported, Liverpool Council bosses are looking at whether the Caledonia could be designated an Asset of Community Value (ACV). Local councillor Nick Small has lent his support to the idea. The City's mayor Joe Anderson has expressed his concern at the proposed closure.

But there has still been no comment from the TPA, on its website, from CEO Matthew Sinclair, or from so-called "grassroots co-ordinator" Andrew Allison. This closure proposal is a direct result of the PubCo behaviour that they do not want anyone to interfere with, but when push comes to shove, they are absent elsewhere.

Meanwhile, I'll be joining some of the folks from Chester at the Caledonia on Wednesday May 8 at 2000 hours, for a chat and a glass or two of beer. It would be good to see the TPA come along to tell Laura King and her customers why Admiral Taverns, or anyone else, should be able to sell profitable pubs from under their tenants in this way]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"LIVERPOOL Council bosses have stepped into the fight to save historic city pub The Caledonia from being turned into student flats.

They are investigating whether the Caledonia, which has stood in Catharine Street since 1890, could be classified as an "asset of community value" (ACV) which could block the sale to developers."