In the ever increasingly troubled times of the licensee this writer has oft remarked on the ignorance of Punch & Enterprise bosses for not wanting choice for their tenants regarding smoking. To say that concerns over non smoking pubs being forced to close is ludicrous for now that all pubs are non smoking, more than 4,000 have been forced into closure.
But todays saga is a tale of a slightly different nature. No doubt ever minful that the smokeban may have a dire effect on the industry it transpires that David Mountford, who runs the Rising Sun in Middleton in Derbyshire was suckered into taking on a run down, delapidated building by Punch with the promise of £180,000 being spent on the place to bring it up to scratch. £180,000? what the hell was it-a derelict barn?
Mr Mountford says he was 'targetted' by Punch after being made redundant so took the pub on in March 2007. 'Targetted'-now what does THAT mean I wonder? Redundancy money? spare cash? investment opportunity seen by Punch? or 'here's a chance to tenant another pub out before the smokeban kicks in'.
Whatever the reasons behind Mr Mountfords appearance behind the bar as licensee it seems that he has been sucker punched as, 2 years later, he is still waiting for the start of the £180,000 'investment' in 'his' pub!
Punch have put so much effort into the place that it seems Punch Taverns had to be forced by the local Environmental Health Service and Mountford to undertake even essential safety repairs, which to my mind indicates that the property was not even fit for the purpose intended.
That reminds me of another Punch hostelry in Bognor Regis where vital sanitation work was needed but ignored by Punch!
So angry is Mr Mountford that he has detailed his complaints against Punch Taverns in a 13 page written submission to Neil Robertson, chief executive of the BII. Wow, this must one mother of a complaint! Interestingly enough the document contains the long list of misleading claims by Punch Taverns managers over the two years on a wide range of issues. Aha, so it is not just a disgruntled Mr Mountford that seems unhappy with the good ship Titanic-opps, sorry, Punch! maybe one of the included complaints emanates from dear old Bognor, who knows?
"GMB (the union) call on British Institute of Innkeepers to strip Punch Taverns of membership as a fit organisation in the pub industry. That will help stop Punch Taverns duping any more people to take over their uneconomic tenancies. GMB urge the British Institute of Innkeepers to do this to stop their membership scheme being seen as a sham”. So now we get down to the nitty gritty-uneconomic tenancies-just how many of them are there since July 1st, 2007? about 30,000 I should think for the days of a good old knees up in a smokey, beer fuelled atmosphere have all but disappeared.
This government, listening to the health freaks (who will still die when their allotted time is up) has absolutely castrated the hospitality sector in this country, divided its people and caused more stress and poverty than an earthquake could have!
Punch, for their part, are so far in debt as to be a 'walking, trading bankruptcy unit' . Well, walking is a bit strong, staggering would be more apt, for if they sold every single building they wouldn't clear the £4.5bn last reported as trading deficit!
It appears that Punch are upset about Mr Mountford going public with his tale of woe but hey, Punch have had 28 months to make some sort of effort to right the wrongs of Mr Mountfords pub! Wait a minute here, they have still been drawing their rent so there's no problem there then! In order to pay that rent how does Mr Mountford attract custom to his derelict, delapidated hostelry that needs £180,000 spending on it "to bring it up to scratch"?
Mr Mountford may be a very small fish in a very big murky pond, but I wonder just how many other 'sucker-fish' are in that murky pond?