THE MAYOR of Ilfracombe has slammed a national pub chain which owns several establishments in Ilfracombe.
Councillor Rod Donovan says poor toilet facilities, untenable contracts and a lack of support is making Enterprise Inns pubs in the town less and less desirable.
But the company insists Mr Donovan has misunderstood its business model and says the firm does offer support to its publicans.
Enterprise Inns owns hundreds of pubs across the country, including several in Ilfracombe such as The Prince Of Wales, The Pier Tavern, The Bunch Of Grapes and The Lamb.
The company owns the pubs and leases them to landlords for a set period of time.
The contracts often include a "wet tie" requiring the landlord to purchase all beer, cider, wines and spirits direct from Enterprise Inns.
But Mr Donovan said he believed unreasonable contractual demands gave landlords of Enterprise Inns very little scope to make money.
He said: "Any landlord showing any enterprise which results in increased patronage and beer sales is suddenly faced with increased rent.
"How is a tenant supposed to improve the property if the owner does not allow any funds to be generated for improvement work?
"Beer must be purchased from Enterprise Inns at a premium price which allows a meagre profit margin and tenants must use a firm of accountants specified by Enterprise Inns.
"This firm provides little or no free guidance to any new tenant who may be keen but unfamiliar with the management responsibilities of a business of this kind."
Mr Donovan advised any prospective Enterprise Inns tenant to take suitable advice before signing a lease.
He said: "Some of the toilet facilities in these establishments must date back to the 1950s and although I enjoy a drink in these pubs, it is with some trepidation that I would direct a visitor to the toilet.
"Enterprise Inns must bring the basic toilet and kitchen facilities up to a modern and hygienic standard before offering a lease to a prospective tenant.
"Enterprise Inns do this town no favours in persisting with their current business plan which is making some of our favourite pubs less and less desirable.
"I'm sure most of us will continue to support our local pubs but we need a better deal from the owners."
Enterprise Inns spokesman Vicky Averis said the firm does not discuss private and confidential matters between the company and it's publicans.
She said: "However it is important for you to understand that Ilfracombe is a highly competitive licensed trade market and Enterprise continues to support its publicans during these tough economic times.
"We will be contacting the Mayor separately to discuss his misunderstanding of the tied lease model and explain further the benefits our publicans receive.
"We are also keen to discuss plans for the area and our pubs within it."