Thursday, 10 March 2016 11:15

Major initiative to save local pubs

Written by  Ruralcity Media

A government-backed support and finance initiative aims to help people take control of their local pub for the benefit of the community.

The £3.62m two-year programme will see a package of business development support, advice, and loan and grant funding being delivered to community groups in England.

It aims to help establish community-owned pubs that can clearly demonstrate how they will bring significant social, economic and environmental benefits to their communities.

Called More than a Pub: Community Pub Business Support Programme, the government-backed initiative was announced by communities minister Marcus Jones.

Mr Jones said: "Today's announcement is one step further in protecting pubs as we listen to local communities and provide support on issues that matter to them - this is real devolution in action."

It is being funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Power to Change charitable trust.

Trust chief executive Vidhya Alakeson said the programme would accelerate the number of community-owned pubs that could tackle problems of rural disadvantage.

"Community-owned pubs can make a significant contribution to reducing isolation, improving well-being and providing access to basic services."

"They can bring the heart back to many communities that have been hollowed out by the loss of local services.

The programme will be led by the Plunkett Foundation and delivered in collaboration with other leading organisations within the sector.

It aims to help 80 community-owned pubs to open and will offer a package of support including access to an advice line, events, workshops, peer-to-peer study visits, and business advice.

It will also offer flexible bursary awards to fund very early stage activity, such as community consultation work, and a grant and loan package.

Forty communities have already successfully taken ownership of their local pub under community ownership.

A further 1,250 have been listed as 'assets of community value' under community rights, highlighting the important role that pubs play in local communities.

The programme seeks to support pubs such as these, where they advance a charitable purpose to benefit their communities by, for example:

One example is the Anglers Rest in Bamford, Derbyshire, which was purchased in 2013 by over 300 people from the local area and is now run for community benefit.

It not only houses the pub itself, but also a cafe and the local Post Office, and offers a much-needed community meeting venue, too.

This has helped improve social cohesion and the regeneration of the village, and any profits generated by the Anglers Rest are reinvested back into the local community.

Plunkett Foundation chief executive Peter Couchman said community-owned pubs brought far-reaching benefits to local people.

"Pubs are not just a place to drink; they are central to peoples' sense of place and identity, they provide an important place for people to meet and help to build community cohesion."

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