One of my excuses as to why blog posts have been thin on the ground lately became visible last week when Pubs Minister John Healey announced that he was asked the Plunkett Foundation to lead a £3.3m programme to create 50 new community-owned pubs.
This is great news for community-ownership and for communities faced with pub closure. We seen how community-ownership of village shops has gone from strange idea to the way rural communities choose to tackle shop closure. About 10% of village shops that would have closed now end up being run by their community as viable businesses. We hope to create a similar movement for pubs.
What we also love about the programme is that it was only made possible by linking together a range of co-operative organisations, such as Co-operatives UK, Co-operative & Community Finance and the co-operative development bodies.
CAMRA, the campaign for real ale, has been quick to recognise what a tremendous opportunity this is for its members and its CEO Mike Brenner has said "we are delighted to be involved in this support programme to make community ownership of these essential local services a reality for many." The support that we've had from the Office of the Third Sector in the Cabinet Office has been superb and it has said that the programme "will act as inspiration to a range of communities, and increase awareness of social enterprise, and mutual approaches to self help within communities."
We are also looking forward to working alongside the other two strands supported by John Healey, business advice to publicans by Businesslink and support for pub diversification by Pub is the Hub.
These are exciting times. Details of the scheme are still being finalised, but you can get all the latest information and find out how register if you have a potential pub here. Who knows, very soon your local could be under new ownership - yours.