An onlime petition calling on a pubco to offer a York landlord a new tenancy agreement is gathering pace with over 4,500 signatories (at the time of writing this article).
The Blue Bell in Fossgate York a grade II listed pub dating back to 1798 has been run by landlord John Pybus for the last three years, however owners Punch Taverns are in the process of installing a manager as opposed to the pub being run as a tenancy. Mr Pybus was served with a section 25 notice by Punch Taverns last month after filing an application to operate free of tie requesting market rent only negotiations.
A petition was set up at change.org addressed to CEO of Punch Taverns, Clive Chesser, calling on him to reconsider the move, the petition says: “We call on Punch to negotiate a new agreement with John, with terms which will allow him to continue his excellent work at this much loved and iconic pub on sustainable terms.” The petition said “the regular customers who are the source of the majority of The Blue Bell’s revenue” had “made it very clear that they will not support the pub under the proposed retail agreement”.
Mr Pybus said the petition had been set up by local members of CAMRA, and said: “York is home to some of the best heritage pubs in the country and the Blue Bell has been serving the local community in the same format since 1798. From the early sense of the petition, it’s clear there’s a fierce local opposition to changing this tried and tested model.”
A spokesperson for Punch taverns said “we have a meeting with our publican next week to discuss all opportunities available, however, it is important to assure the community that any changes made at the blue Bell will not be detrimental to the style of operation nor will it impact on the range of products currently available. Punch are passionate about pubs and we are committed to investing substantially in our state. We have plans to invest £80 million to develop our pubs over the next three years and the Bluebell is one of the pubs identified. We recognise the importance of the character and ambience of the Bluebell and any investments will be sympathetic to retaining these qualities and maintaining the existing charm.
Our proposal is that the Bluebell will be operated under the terms of a retail contract, this is the ideal opportunity for a self-employed public and to operate on a turnover share agreement rather than the traditional tide lease or tenancy. With most of the operational costs associated with running a pub being covered by Punch, this gives the public and the opportunity to focus entirely on delivering a great pub offer while driving sales and profit”