The pub, near Whitchurch in North Shropshire, aims to raise £370,000 via a share offer by the end of 2017 in order for locals to buy the pub off the current landlords – who intend to retire and close the pub’s doors on 31 December – and set up a Community Benefit Society (CBS) to open and run The White Lion as a Community Pub.
As reported by the Morning Advertiser, residents of the Ash Villages in Shropshire pledged just over £90,000 following an initial public meeting on 26 October.
Judith Griffin, chair of a steering committee guiding the campaign to save the White Lion commented: “We launched our business plan and share offer at a meeting on 30 November. The offer went live on 1 December. Prior to that we got pledges from people totalling just under £160,000 - which was a fantastic response by the local community. The message is we're on track."
Converting pledges to payment
Griffin added: "The next stage is for people who have pledged money to convert those pledges into purchasing shares - which they can do between 1 December and 9 January. We're optimistic of being able to raise our target of a minimum share investment of £220,000."
The share investment - which has come courtesy of a total of 78 pledges from 99 named individuals with a number of BACS payments and cheques already received - will be topped up by additional grants and loans, the largest of which will hopefully be a £100,000 grant via the Plunkett Foundation’s More Than A Pub scheme.
"We won't know until the middle of December whether we've been successful in that - but we anticipate that they'll look favourably on our application."
The company, to be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority as ‘The White Lion, Ash Community Pub Limited’ will operate within a co-operative model – owned by members who are shareholders. Shares cost a minimum of £250 with the anticipated maximum expected to be £25,000. Each share will entitle the holder to one vote regardless of the amount they paid – one share, one vote.
In search of perfection
Should all go to plan, Griffin says that the next big step will be recruiting the “perfect manager”.
"We're developing a manager's recruitment pack at the moment. We can't really start to recruit until we've purchased the pub, but we could certainly welcome expressions of interest at this stage.
"What we're really looking for is people who share our vision and our values - we particularly want to appoint a manager who will share the village's vision of having a community based pub.
Anyone wishing to help can visit the campaign’s website where pledge forms can be downloaded and potential volunteers can contact organisers.
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