Community spirit: More local pubs saved from closure

The Fox and Goose in Hebden Bridge has become West Yorkshire's first co-operative pub

With Community Pubs month in full swing, a number of residents’ associations across the country have stepped in to save their local from closure or conversion into commercial properties.

Community Pubs Month, organised by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), takes place throughout April; encouraging pubs to organise events and try out new marketing initiatives to drive trade.

The Month launched with the release of new research from Camra, which found that over 50 pubs across the UK are now being run by their communities - many of which were facing closure before being saved by the local council and its residents.

Further examples of this have emerged over the past few weeks, beginning in the north London district of Camden with the council invoking planning powers to make it more difficult to close a community pub.

  • The Golden Lion

The Golden Lion has been protected by an ‘article four direction’, meaning the outlet – which is listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) – cannot be redeveloped into a commercial premises without full planning consent and a public consultation.

“Pubs such as the Golden Lion play an important role in local communities, yet we see more and more converted into expensive flats against local people’s wishes,” said Camden Councillor Phil Jones.

“I’m pleased we’ve been able to step in to provide some protection for the Golden Lion and congratulate the campaigners who have been working to save their local. Camden Council will continue to do all it can through planning legislation to protect valued assets.”

  • Fox and Goose

Meanwhile, an historic Yorkshire pub has been saved from closure by a collective of residents to create the region’s first ‘co-op’ pub.

The Fox and Goose in Hebden Bridge was under threat of closure due to the deteriorating health of the landlady and financial difficulties. But a co-operative formed by regulars, locals and pub enthusiasts clubbed together to purchase the pub through a share offering which raised £130,000. The money raised will also go towards a major refurbishment of the pub, which becomes one of 25 co-operative pubs in the UK; harnessing community spirit to fight back against the increasing number of rural pub closures.

Councillor Dave Young, a director of the Fox and Goose (Hebden Bridge) Ltd, said: “We did it - this wonderful old pub which is both a well-loved social hub and an important piece of our local heritage is now saved for the community for posterity.

“I’d like to thank our solicitor Valerie Mitchell of Keystone Law for all her assistance in carrying out the preparatory work and conveyancing to ensure the purchase of the Fox went through smoothly and especially for the pro bono advice she gave us to enable us to reach the final stage."

  • The Red Lion 

And just this morning (23 April), BigHospitality’s sister title the Publican’s Morning Advertiser reported that campaigners hoping to save a Devonshire village pub have launched a share offer, after Punch Taverns agreed to sell the property to a community enterprise group for £190,000 - significantly below its original asking price of £295,000. 

The Red Lion in Sidbury will be run as another co-operative should Sidbury Community Enterprises (SCE) raise the money by 23 May to buy the pub through the share offer. Individuals will be able to buy shares at £50 each, up to a value of £20,000. Read more here.

“We have a vision that a future Red Lion business will be more than just a successful village pub,” said SCE chair Fred Burnett. “Since the outset of the campaign to retain the Red Lion the objective has been to retain it as a community asset. Our vision shows that we want the pub to be at the heart of the community.”Read more here.

Camra’s Community Pubs Month runs throughout April. The organisation’s previous pub campaigns have highlighted the important role pubs play in our communities - they have raised over £100m for charities, employ over 500,000 people and along with the brewing industry add £19bn to the economy.

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