Plunkett Foundation welcomes another community pub to the co-op fold

The Auctioneers Arms in Staffordshire has been saved after locals raised more than £200,000 in community shares

A much-loved pub sold to a property developer in 2016 has been saved from the bulldozer after a 16-month campaign by locals.

Plans had been made to build houses on the site of the Auctioneers Arms in Caverswall, Staffordshire, but residents stepped in and registered it as an Asset of Community Value (ACV).

The group then formed a community benefit society, Caverswall Community Society, and raised over £200,000 through a community share offer to purchase the site. More than 130 people invested between £250 and £6,000 to become shareholders and society members – and democratic owners of the pub.

The group has received advice on community engagement and setting up a co-operative, including a £50,000 grant and £50,000 loan, from the More Than A Pub: The Community Pub Business Support programme, a two-year project funded by the government and delivered by Plunkett Foundation to support community ownership of pubs in England.

Members of the Caverswall Community Society celebrate their successful pub bid

Brian Griffiths, a driving force behind Caverswall Community Society, said: “The Auctioneers Arms has been in our village for over 150 years and local residents were determined to save it despite it being sold to a property developer.

“The past 16 months have been extremely hard but we have had some fantastic support from members of the local community as well as others further afield. The purchase was eventually completed on 5 January. The Auctioneers Arms is now a community pub, owned by the community for the community. We intend to open the doors in spring following the initial refurbishment ”

Nicole Hamilton, head of frontline at Plunkett, said: “We are delighted to have supported this group to acquire their local pub through the programme and enable them to provide innovative and sustainable solutions to meet the needs currently being faced by their local community.”

Jenny Sansom from Power To Change added: “There is amazing community spirit on display here. By making sure pubs host groups and charitable events, people are keeping their local pub open and offering much more than a good pint.”

The group wants  develop The Auctioneers Arms into a community hub with services and facilities beyond the traditional role of a local pub.

Proposals include a tea room and coffee shop, parcel drop off/pick up point and an emergency defibrillator. As well as introducing new services, they look set to ensure The Auctioneers Arms continues to be a thriving, viable and sustainable village pub for the community.

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