Community pub project motivated by lockdown spirit

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Lockdown spirit: the village of Long Newton only contains one other pub (image: Mark Garratt, the Vane Arms, Long Newton, Geograph)
Lockdown spirit: the village of Long Newton only contains one other pub (image: Mark Garratt, the Vane Arms, Long Newton, Geograph)

Related tags: Coronavirus

Villagers have said they are feeling more inspired than ever to pursue plans to buy their local pub.

Residents in Long Newton, County Durham, banded together to buy the Vane Arms pub, which has been closed since August 2019.

Nigel Dennison, who heads the steering group, said it felt more important than ever to ensure the pub was not converted into housing during the coronavirus outbreak.

Dennison said: “Our village has galvanised itself really in the Covid crisis without a doubt. More people are walking round the village, saying hello, getting to know people. 

“They have created a Facebook page where people will help each other if they are short of anything.

“[The crisis] has galvanised this spirit. We have got an opportunity to extend this and keep running with this community spirit. The Vane Arms gives it more than not.”

Community value

There are only two pubs in the village, alongside a church and community centre. The Save the Vane​ group intends to introduce a shop selling essential products in the pub to help locals.

It has already received pledges from potential future shareholders totalling £200,000 and received the backing of the area’s MP Alex Cunningham. 

Stockton Borough Council has listed the pub as an asset of community value (ACV), however, campaigners are still worried about the future of the building with property developers still keen to take over the pub. The owner of the building has appealed the ACV status and will take it to the lower tier courts in due course.

The property includes four bed and breakfast rooms that the steering group hopes would appeal to visitors to the nearby Durham Tees Valley Airport.  

Dennison added: “It is an opportunity to grasp what possible good has come out of the Covid crisis in terms of neighbourliness. 

“We have a great village no doubt and, like most community pub-run projects, when you get ownership of something you tend to want to use it a bit more.”

Dennison pointed to figures from the Plunkett Foundation that show no community pubs have ceased trading since its records began​, though some have since been transferred into private ownership.

Read the latest digital edition of The Morning Advertiser​ – for free – by clicking here​.

Related topics: Events & Occasions

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