Community-bought pub opens after village effort

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Open for business: the Bell at Yarpole has opened again after being bought through community shares
Open for business: the Bell at Yarpole has opened again after being bought through community shares

Related tags Community Hertfordshire

The new licensees at a pub saved by its community say they are delighted to see the site back in business.

Caz Dare and Sally Milsom took on the tenancy at the Bell at Yarpole, Hertfordshire, after villagers raised £240,000 in shares to bring it under community ownership last year.

The pub opened on 15 March with “lots of people wanting to celebrate” its return “and all the hard work that has gone into getting it where it is”, they said.

An opening event featured an Irish-themed supper with live acoustic music and another live band to finish the evening.

The experience so far has been “fab”, the pair said.

Villagers helped out with getting the pub back open, including one resident who donated a piano for the entrance lobby.

The pub was set to be auctioned by the Ei Group, causing fears the small community could lose its only pub for miles​ after it closed last spring.

Innovative attitude

Ei Group put the pub on the market alongside several other pubs in small villages.

With just two days to spare before the auction, the Mortimer Community Benefit Society bought the pub for £275,000 and the purchase was completed in September.

Martin Flaherty of the Mortimer Community Benefit Society said it had been a united effort to achieve a successful reopening in such a short period.

He continued: “Caz and Sally really impressed us with their experience, their welcoming and innovative attitude and their desire to work with us and the community to make the pub a long-term success.”

The society will look to raise more funds from donations and shares to help it make further improvements and pay off temporary loans.

Earlier this year, the Government announced it would roll out a new £2.2m funding programme for groups wishing to save their local through community ownership.

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