50th co-operative pub opens in Theresa May’s constituency

By Georgina Townshend

- Last updated on GMT

Dream come true: Craufurd Arms becomes 50th co-operative pub
Dream come true: Craufurd Arms becomes 50th co-operative pub

Related tags Berkshire Prime minister

A local in Prime Minister Theresa May’s constituency has become the 50th co-operative pub in the UK after residents rallied together to save the community site.

The Craufurd Arms, one of Maidenhead’s oldest pubs, was put up for sale in August 2016 by the Wellington Pub Company. 

To try and save the only remaining pub in north Maidenhead, a group of residents set up the Craufurd Arms Society Ltd, which eventually raised £310,000 from 226 people investing sums between £250 and £25,000.

With a grant from More Than A Pub, delivered by the Plunkett Foundation, and a loan from Co-operative and Community Finance, this was enough to proceed with the purchase of the Berkshire pub.

A co-operative pub is owned and controlled by a large number of people from within the community – typically around 200 people. Pubs saved in this way are governed democratically on the basis that each member gets one vote, regardless of how much money they invested.

ACV saved the day

The Craufurd Arms Society Ltd chairman Mark Newcombe said: “Thankfully we had listed the pub as an asset of community value (ACV) the year before it came on the market.

“This gave us six months to get organised and raise the required funds.”

Even the local council got involved, leader and councillor of The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council, Simon Dudley, said he would ask the Prime Minister to support the campaign​ to save the pub back in March.

There are a number of "ambitious plans" to develop the Craufurd Arms into a community hub, said Newcombe, with services and facilities “beyond the traditional role of a local pub”.

The society wants to retain the Craufurd Arms as a place for the local community to socialise, host fundraising events for local charities and act as a meeting place for local sports teams to come to after weekend matches.

It is also planning to work with a local charity, the Autism Group, to provide an after-school club for young adults on the autistic spectrum.

The society said this “was not just about buying a pub; it was about helping to sustain a community and preserving local heritage”.

Dream come true

Newcombe added: “We are very excited and proud to be the 50th co-operative pub in the UK and are grateful for the support and advice we received from the Plunkett Foundation, I am sure, without them, we would not have been able to achieve our dream of bringing our pint-sized pub into community ownership.”

Co-operative and Community Finance investment manager Ian Rothwell said it is “wonderful” that there are now 50 co-operative pubs in England and Wales – with soon to be more.

Plunkett Foundation general manager James Alcock said: “We are delighted that the Craufurd Arms is set to become the 50th co-operative pub trading in the UK.

“They are a proud addition to this rapidly expanding sector and I wish them every success for the future.”

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