New partnership launched to promote community pub model in Scotland

Plunkett Foundation is working with Community Shares Scotland and Cooperative Development Scotland on the project

Plunkett Foundation has announced a new Scottish Community Pubs Partnership to help grow the sector and rescue pubs at threat of closure.

With funding from Scottish government’s rural network unit, the partnership will be led by Plunkett, working with Community Shares Scotland and Cooperative Development Scotland.

Plunkett, a charity which supports rural community businesses in the UK, has been commissioned to support the growing community pubs network in Scotland with free advice, training, events and networking activities. The partership is being launched in response to the increasing number of people, from across Scotland, interested in joining together to buy their local pub for local benefit.

The aim of community pubs is to preserve much-loved locals while helping villages tackle issues of isolation, and loneliness. Pubs and community groups supported by the new partnership will be encouraged to place their communities at the very heart of their activities.

Celebrating community ownership of the Black Bull in Gartmore, Stirlingshire

Claire Spendley, head of community business at Plunkett, said: “In the last 25 years we’ve helped over 800 community-owned businesses begin trading and witnessed the benefits that these inspirational businesses can bring to a local area.

“We’re incredibly excited to help grow the number of community pubs in Scotland at a time when their communities really do need them the most. Community ownership not only saves a pub from closure, but it brings people together, it improves community spirit, it is inclusive and can help a rural village, and the people that depend on it, to thrive.”

Clare Alexander, head of CDS and Scottish Enterprise head of business models, said: “Community ownership is becoming increasingly popular as towns and villages grapple with the effects of the pandemic on the very businesses that often help people stay connected. Pubs can act as hubs within these communities by hosting social activities and vital services for people who could otherwise become isolated. We also know that community-owned businesses are more resilient and promote fairer work practices, to the benefit of everyone involved.”

The Kings Arms, in Ballantrae, South Ayrshire

Morven Lyon, Community Shares Scotland programme manager, said: “More and more Scottish groups are realising the benefits offered by community shares, and collective community-ownership of assets such as pubs. This partnership offers a huge opportunity to create more multi-service, multi-benefit hubs at the heart of communities right across Scotland.”

Support for community groups – whether they are setting up or already trading – will include free training opportunities, such as business and financial advice. Two free on-line workshops, on 28 February and 21 March, are open to all those interested in learning more about community ownership of their local pub. Groups can also find out about the available support by contacting [email protected] or helpline 0845 557 1469.