Well the truth is that there is no easy option.
We’ve been hearing a lot of highly encouraging stories – local communities are taking over, or working toward taking over, pubs all over the UK – we are discussing and researching the options that may be available to a group from this area.
Over the last few months, we’ve taken advice from a lot of heritage organisations and people involved in the hospitality industry. By and large they have been encouraging and offered a lot of helpful advice, particularly our local CAMRA branch, though they all inject several notes of caution. They are;
- we don’t own the building
- the building has been out of use for the best part of a decade
- the heritage status of the building adds an extra layer of cost and complication
- given the above, it is unlikely that we’d interest existing publicans/pub companies in the huge undertaking of ‘resurrection’
- the local demographic does not appear encouraging for the successful launch of a ‘ new’ pub
- the local authority seems keen to maintain the site ‘as is’ and have refused several planning applications for substantial residential developments
- the administrator has expressed a willingness, albeit extremely informally, to dispose of the site, given the right offer
- we’ve had a look around and, although you couldn’t open the pub up tomorrow, the condition inside is not at all bad – it is watertight, doesn’t smell at all damp and very nearly everything worthwhile is intact.
- a lot of energetic and able local people have been keen to offer their expertise, time and energy to help this campaign
- local groups all over the UK are undertaking similar enterprises, their experiences provide us with a wealth of information and encouragement
- we are building a lot of local support – people want to see this pub brought back into use, they really do
- our local MP, Lyn Brown is definitely on board
So the next step? We’re going to arrange a formal meeting with the administrator to discuss his plans and – who knows – we may be able figure out a reasonable price. Then all we need is the money. Shares in a historic community pub, anyone?