Villagers plan to buy their pub

The Nags Head, Helpringham. EMN-150414-112238001
The Nags Head, Helpringham. EMN-150414-112238001

A community group are all set to start fundraising to buy their village pub.

The Save Our Nags group started out last September when pub company Enterprise Inns put The Nag’s Head in Helpringham on the market for sale.

The group was launched by Mikaela Timmerhues after discussing the pub’s future with friends who did not want to risk it being bought up and redeveloped. She applied to North Kesteven District Council in December to have it listed as an asset of community value.

This was granted on February 11 preventing the possible sale for six months while the community group was officially formed as a temporary company to bid for the pub, on the market with Banks Long and Co for £250,000.

Group secretary Zoe Watson explained they sent out questionnaires with an overwhelming majority of replies keen not to lose the village’s asset, currently trading on a short-term lease.

She said: “We would be running it as a co-operative pub, registering it with the Community Benefit Society.

Mrs Watson added: “The next stage will be to hold a public meeting for every householder in the village to attend some time in May, to find out what is involved. We would seek pledges from people to buy shares to show how much extra funding might be needed and whether we would want to go for a low cost mortgage or seek funding from grant agencies.”

They estimate the minimum spend per shareholder would be £50 worth of £1 shares. The scheme would be non-profit-making, reinvesting proceeds into the pub or other community projects.

The group would probably lease it back at a very competitive rate to a tenant landlord, explained Mrs Watson. She said there were about 34 co-operative pubs in the UK, all successful: “Generally a co-operative pub can charge lower rents as no-one is taking a profit away and there are various tax relief benefits and probably grants for heating efficiency and mobility access.”

Mrs Watson said they have been advised by the Plunkett Foundation which has 100 years of experience in promoting community enterprises.

A spokesman from Enterprise Inns said: “Following the listing of the property as an Asset of Community Value by a Local Community Group we were subsequently pleased to receive an expression of interest from the group to purchase the property. We look forward to receiving their offer in the near future.”

l You can keep up with the group’s prograess on Facebook and Twitter @saveournags and find out more by emailing saveournags@outlook.com or call 01529 421650.