PUB OWNING businesses have been branded 'cartels' that exploit their tenants by forcing them to buy beer at sky high prices — resulting in pub closures across the country.

Following the closure of The Pier View, Cowes, after leaseholder Sue Wescomb called time at the bar last month, the Fair Pint campaign group said even the best pubs struggled to survive.

Sue said she was 'heartbroken' to say goodbye after 25 years but told the County Press 'times were tough' as a leaseholder running the pub, which is owned by Enterprise Inns.

An Enterprise Inns spokesperson said The Pier View had closed 'due to the publican's decision to cease trading' and it aimed to reopen the pub as soon as possible.

Fair Pint spokesperson Olivia Tyler, who runs two pubs in Cowes — The Union Inn, owned by Fullers, and The Globe, another Enterprise Inns business — said: "The sudden closure of The Pier View has shocked everyone who does not understand the problems of the tied tenancy model. It shows even the best pubs with outstanding tenants in excellent positions are not immune to the scandalous behaviour of pub owning businesses.

"They tie their tenants to contracts, requiring them to buy products from them at 2.5 times the market value. This inflated price is supposed to be offset by a rent reduction but, over the past decade, we have seen tied rents overtake free of tie rents at an alarming pace."

Olivia said it was time for government reform of the industry — warning a huge number of Isle of Wight pubs were at risk of closure or development if the situation continued.

"Despite legislation designed to prevent these large corporations from taking advantage of their tenants, we are seeing more abuse of the system," she said.

"The only way to protect tenants is an abolition of the tie. This is the only industry allowed to act as a cartel type organisation, dictating prices and rents as it pleases, and we cannot allow the government to ignore it any longer.

"It is not tax, beer duty or popular trends that are killing pubs, it's the #GreatBritishPubcoScam and it's not acceptable."

Olivia urged people to support their local publicans, write to MP Bob Seely calling for change and visit the Fair Pint Facebook page to find out more.