Two villages aim to save pubs

Friends of Scopwick Royal Oak. EMN-180416-155430001
Friends of Scopwick Royal Oak. EMN-180416-155430001

Two groups of residents are well-advanced with projects to secure community ownership of their village pubs.

Villagers in Scopwick have just received a boost in their bid to save The Royal Oak from closure, while the issuing of shares to raise funds to buy The Duke of Wellington in Leasingham is gathering pace while still more is needed.

Friends of Scopwick Royal Oak (FOSRO) have received a package of professional support and a £2,500 bursary from ‘More Than A Pub’, a unique, government-backed two year programme established to support community ownership of pubs in England.

FOSRO chairman John White said: “This will help us in our campaign to save the pub from being closed down and enable it to be run as a pub for all the local community “

A meeting for everyone in Scopwick and Kirkby Green gave unanimous support to form a committee to buy the pub as a community asset. This means the pub will not only provide good food and drink but also be a welcoming place where everyone in the village can come together, share common interests and feel at home.

James Alcock, Executive Director for Plunkett Foundation, which administers the funding scheme said: “Pubs that are owned and run by the community are so much more than a place to buy a drink; they provide important social spaces and services for local people, and are central to their community’s sense of place and identity.”

The FOSRO committee are inviting ideas on what specific things residents want from their pub and raising funds through the sale of shares together with further loans and grants to buy it for them.

The Duke of Wellington at Leasingham was advertised for sale in November, and a group of dedicated villagers got together to form a Community Benefit Society to try and raise the funds to buy and refurbish it.

They now have six weeks to raise the money before the Asset of Community Value order on the pub expires on May 20, meaning that anyone can then buy it and potentially change it.

Frances Franklin from the Leasingham group said: “More than 150 have bought shares to have a say in how their pub should be run. There is the 93-year-old who wants to pop in once a week, because otherwise he only talks to the paperboy, while the darts, pool and quiz teams want to return to their traditional home.”

They have raised almost half the funds needed. Volunteers have been delivering leaflets and organising meetings. The business plan and share offer can be downloaded at www.buytheduke.co.uk or you can donate through the JustGiving page.