A popular Sussex village pub has officially opened under community ownership following an eight-month campaign by locals.
The campaign started in April when former owner Enterprise Inns put the pub up for sale. Alarmed at the prospect of losing their local, villagers formed a working committee to investigate a community purchase.
They had the Half Moon listed as an asset of community value, which gave them six months to prepare a bid, and in October a public meeting drew more than 150 people and pledges of support.
The team went on to set up a community benefit society, Balcombe Community Pub Ltd, which worked to raise the necessary £300,000 through a community share offer, through which people can invest between £250 and £100,000 and become members – and democratic owners – of the pub.
Rodney Saunders, secretary for Balcombe Community Pub, said: “Village support has been critical and our success is a testament to the strong community spirit in Balcombe. Over 300 villagers invested to keep our pub a pub.
“We are also grateful for the advice and support from Plunkett Foundation. With their help, we didn’t need to reinvent the wheel and we are proud to have joined the growing ranks of community-owned pubs.”
The group received advice on community engagement and setting up a co-op, including a £2,500 bursary, from the More Than A Pub: The Community Pub Business Support programme, a two-year project delivered by Plunkett Foundation to help support community ownership of pubs in England.
The Half Moon Inn will become the third pub to open after receiving this support, which is funded by the department for communities and local government and Power to Change.
Pubs minister Andrew Percy said: “Our pubs are a great British institution. From historical inns to village locals, they provide an informal setting where people can get together and socialise. In rural areas they can also provide valuable services for local people.
“The Half Moon Inn will now stay at the heart of the community – this is a great reason to celebrate with a pint, and I hope the other new owners benefiting from the programme will raise a glass to the success of their businesses too.”
Plunkett’s Nicole Hamilton, project manager for More Than A Pub, said: “We’re thrilled to see The Half Moon Inn opening under community ownership. It will provide an important social space and give the community a sense of place and identity. With plans to continue to build on providing even more opportunities for local people, we wish them every success.”
The management committee is now advertising for a permanent tenant for the Half Moon, and would like to hear from any publicans who would be thrilled to work with a community-owned pub.
- For application details, visit www.savethehalfmoon.co.uk.