Co-op pub to open after locals raise £300,000

The first co-operatively-owned pub in Warwickshire is set to open just in time for Christmas after locals raised £300,000 to save it.

The New Inn in Norton Lindsey, a historic pub that had also been an essential hub for the community, was saved by a determined group of locals calling themselves ‘The New Inn Salvation Squad’.

The group has set up a community benefit society and has been working to raise the £300,000 needed to buy the pub through a community share offer, which enables people to invest between £250 and £60,000 and become members – and democratic owners – of the pub.

Rob Brook, chairman of The New Inn Salvation Squad, said: “Our vision has been to not only save our historic pub, but to turn it into a thriving hub for the community with additional facilities, including a café and shop.

“We only had one month to raise the funds but the reaction has been amazing, we’ve even inspired people to invest from as far afield as Germany and the USA!

“The campaign has involved a lot of hard work but we’ve been overwhelmed by the fantastic support we’ve received. This amazing journey from despair to joy has firmly cemented our village community together as we look forward to a new and brighter future for our pub.”

The group has been receiving business advice and financial support, including a £2,500 bursary and a £100,000 grant/loan package, from the More Than A Pub: The Community Pub Business Support programme.

Run by rural co-op charity Plunkett Foundation, the two-year project was established to help support community ownership of pubs in England.

The New 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.

The grant/loan package is made up of £50,000 of grant funding from Power to Change and £50,000 of loan funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government, administered and managed by Keyfund.

Peter Couchman, chief executive of Plunkett Foundation, said: “Pubs like the New Inn saved by their community are governed democratically on the basis that each member gets one vote, regardless of how much money they invested.

“In our view this is important, because we know that most communities are made up of people with mixed incomes, and this means that everybody has the opportunity to have a say about what’s important to them. We’re absolutely delighted that the New Inn will be opening its doors to the community in time for Christmas and wish them every success for the future.”

The New Inn will become the first co-operatively-owned pub in Warwickshire, and the 45th in the UK, after closing its doors in July and being put up for sale on the open market.

After a number of offers from developers were made for the pub, the community began their campaign to save it from being turned into housing in August.

Norton Lindsey Parish Council had previously registered the pub as an Asset of Community Value, one of the first councils to do so under the Localism Act 2011.