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Edinburgh Pubco Must Repair Slough Pub

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

GMB Call On Edinburgh Based Stars, Bars And Pubs To Accept Responsibility To Repair Garibaldi Pub In Slough As Company Seek £5,000 Rent Increase

Stars, Bars and Pubs show total disregard for the welfare of sitting tenants and of course a total contempt for the concept of self-regulation says GMB

GMB, the union for tied pub tenants, is calling on Edinburgh pubco Stars, Bars and Pubs (formerly Scottish and Newcastle) to face us to its legal responsibilities to properly repair and maintain the Garibaldi pub in Burnham, Slough. See letter from GMB in notes to editors.

The tied tenant Judi Ablett was initially facing a demand for an increase in rent of £5,000 which would have increased the rent to £47,000 per annum. David Morgan of Morgan and Clarke who is assisting Judi in her rent review considers a rental figure of £17,000 much more realistic.

The pub has faced continual problems with electrical and gas safety as well as issues with asbestos. Since she became the tenant 5 years ago Judi has had also continual issues with hot water in her kitchen and a leaking and dangerous ceiling in her bar. Her gas boiler was condemned shortly after the start of her agreement. Judi and her family were exposed to asbestos which has caused huge concern especially when considering Judie's partner's father died of asbestos poisoning.

Stars, Bars and Pubs has failed to respond to in excess of a dozen e mails to representatives of the company regarding these issue and the outstanding issues regarding serious Health and Safety matters that the Company has accepted liability for and only partially addressed.

Dave Mountford, GMB branch Secretary for tied tenants in the letter to Stars, Bars and Pubs, says “Before Judi took on the 5 year tenancy your company should have followed a due diligence procedure as to the electrical and gas safety of the pub, as well as an asbestos report the health and safety of the property became the responsibility of Stars Pubs and Bars.

Judi discovered that the electrical systems in the property were so inadequate that she had to close for 5 weeks whilst remedial work was carried out. There are problems with asbestos and continual issues with hot water in her kitchen and a leaking and dangerous ceiling in her bar.

These issues have been on-going for the last 5 years. Now that her rent review has arrived your company has conveniently ignored the fact that Judi has never had the opportunity to operate her business with a premises that was “fit for purpose” and simply proposed to increase her rent by £5,000 and accuse her of defrauding HMRC.

I have been copied into e mails between herself and her property Manager, David Brown, which show a consistent and in my opinion wilful ignorance of your company’s responsibility to this tenant.

However as stated earlier in this communication, I would be grateful if you could, as a matter of urgency, investigate the points in this letter and point out any misunderstandings or, if this issue is as clear cut as I believe, inform me of how you would like to address the problems that Judi has faced, accepting that her ability to run this business to a fraction of its potential have been compromised by your Companies inaction.”

End

Contact Judi Ablett 07896 782954 or Dave Mountford 07792 198954

Notes to editors

Copy of letter from GMB branch to Mr Chris Jowsey, Trading Director, Stars, Bars and Pubs, 3 – 4 Broadway Park, South Gyle, Edinburgh EH12 9JZ

27th August 2013

Dear Mr Jowsey

Re: Garibaldi Public House, Slough

I am writing in my capacity as branch secretary of the GMB in Matlock, Derbyshire after being contacted by one of your tenants, Judi Ablet of the Garibaldi Pub, Slough.

Judi’s initial contact back in July was enquiring about my opinion on the legality of an e mail received by David Morgan of Morgan and Clarke, from her Area Manager, Steve Bransby, in which Mr Bransby accused Judi of understating her sales in her accounts submission as a way of justifying your company’s refusal to accept Judi’s gross profit margins in her rent review. I believe Judy has shown that your company has used high margin products in assessing her rent, a tactic seen often by Company’s such as yours.

Since this initial contact and my further investigation of Judi’s situation she has copied me in on in excess of a dozen e mails to your representatives of your Company regarding this issue and the outstanding issues regarding serious Health and Safety matters that your Company has accepted liability for and, to date done nothing about.

Over the years of my involvement in this industry, assisting tenants in their battles with Pub Companies, I have become less and less surprised or shocked by the activities of those who operate a tied PUBCO model, and have kept detailed examples of behaviour which, in my opinion shows a pattern of disregard for basic Health and Safety law, total disregard for the welfare of sitting tenants and of course a total contempt for the concept of self-regulation.

During the 6 years I have been involved in this issue I have been pleased to see that my views have been largely proven by the acceptance of the Government that this is an issue that clearly needs further regulation and that the evidence of systematic abuse has been difficult to ignore, with the exception of those who have financially benefitted from it.

Until I had been contacted by Judi, I had no direct experience of your company apart from some high profile cases prior to your change of name, which whilst typical and shocking, where prior to the 2010 BISC report which had forced the industry to introduce such ground breaking initiatives such as PICAS. It would be fair to say that since then people such as myself as continually being told that self-regulation is working and as I have no direct experience with your Company I felt that it would only be fair to offer you the opportunity to comment on the issues at the Garibaldi Pub, before I provide this case as further evidence as part of the GMB’s, lengthy submission to the consultation process,

The details of Judi’s complaint are very simple.

Judi and her partner took the Pub in June 2008 following its closure due to both EHO pressure and Police concerns. At this point the health and safety of the property became the responsibility of Stars Pubs and Bars and before Judi took on the 5 year tenancy, your company should have followed a due diligence procedure as to the electrical and gas safety of the Pub, as well as an asbestos report.

Judi discovered that the electrical systems in the property were so inadequate that she had to close for 5 weeks whilst remedial work was carried out. Her suspicions regarding asbestos in the property were at first shown to be groundless following a report your Company carried out, only for Judi’s secondary report prove that there was in fact asbestos in the ceiling of the living accommodation.

From the start of her tenancy Judi has had continual issues with hot water in her kitchen and a leaking and dangerous ceiling in her bar. Her gas boiler was condemned shortly after the start of her agreement. The standard of work undertaken by Contractors appointed by your Company would seem to be lamentable, with basic risk assessments or schedule of works being ignored. These fundamental issues have been on-going for the last 5 years, and now that her rent review has arrived your Company has conveniently ignored the fact that Judi has never had the opportunity to operate her business with a premises that was “fit for purpose” and simply proposed to increase her rent by 5 k and accuse her of defrauding the HMRC.

During the communication I have had with Judi I have been copied into e mails between herself and her property Manager, David Brown, which show a consistent and in my opinion wilful ignorance of your company’s responsibility to this tenant, something that I have witnessed many times before with either Enterprise Inns or Punch Taverns. This reaffirms my view that the PUBCO model so heavily criticised by so many is far from restricted to certain companies but is simply practiced by all.

However as stated earlier in this communication, I would be grateful if you could, as a matter of urgency, investigate the points in this letter and point out any misunderstandings or,  if this issue is as clear cut as I believe, inform me of how you would like to address the problems that Judi has faced, accepting that her ability to run this business to a fraction of its potential have been compromised by your Companies inaction.

I have copied, both David Morgan and Puran Sanichara, South Buckinghamshire Health and safety officer and the Press Office for the GMB into this communication and will expect them to be copied into your response.

However, at this point I will take no further action giving your company the opportunity to fully investigate this issue and provide the Gas and Electrical certificates that Judi requested from Mr Brown back in July.

I look forward to your prompt response.

Yours sincerely

Dave Mountford, Branch secretary GMB Matlock

Cc       David Morgan, Morgan and Clarke, GMB Press Office,Puran Sanichara, Environmental Health Officer, South Buck’s

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