Our aim is to Save The Bell as a thriving, community-owned Pub which encourages community-wide access. There are over 150 pubs under community ownership in Britain and at the last count only one of these had ceased trading.
Pubs form a vital part of social infrastructure and are anchors that tie the community together. This is particularly true for rural towns and villages.
Achieving our vision
1. Transforming the economics
We hope to purchase The Bell at Pensax as a Community Benefit Society which raises funds via a share offer. Whilst we expect those who invest in shares to receive interest after an initial period, this form of funding should allow a tenant to pay a very reasonable rent for the pub.
A large number of those who responded to the Save The Bell survey offered their services and many of these have skills which could be put to use helping to maintain the fabric of the buildings and garden. Again, this would help to keep the required rent down.
Survey responses clearly showed that people would like to see The Bell continuing to offer a wide selection of real ales, lagers, cider and wine as well as non-alcoholic beers and ciders, cocktails and ‘Barista’ coffee. Traditional ‘pub grub’ and Sunday lunches were the overwhelming majority vote on the food front.
Our Business Plan, developed in conjunction with industry experts, shows that even with increased energy costs and changing social norms the Bell can be profitable operated in this way.
2. Appealing to a wider audience
Our survey responses include lots of suggestions for ways the pub could better serve diverse groups in the local community. Implementing some of these suggestions should mean more people visiting the pub more often.
Visiting The Brewers’ Arms community pub in West Malvern recently we found the pub full of Shareholders who had just attended a recent Community meeting. Owning a share in the pub makes every visit to it a little bit more special!
Food, drink, events, music, clubs and other community activities can all combine to widen the appeal of the pub at different times of the day and week to different groups.
The Bell has offered a first taste of paid employment to many and is invaluable in this capacity. It is hoped that this would continue to be the case, and with community involvement in other aspects of the maintenance of the pub this would likely increase.
3. How the pub will operate under Community ownership
We are researching funding options with the most likely way forward being a Community Share Scheme, along with any grants that might be available, plus (if necessary) loans.
Our preferred option is for the Community Benefit Society to have a contractual relationship with one or more carefully selected pub tenant(s) via a tenancy agreement. This means that they will take the business risk, but also ensures that they operate the pub in line with the aims and objectives set by the CBS for the benefit of the community.
Last updated February 2023