Enthusiasm for Community Pub
Published in the Darlington & Stockton Times Friday 18th March 2011
Over 80 local residents of Carlton in Coverdale showed they were overwhelmingly in favour of keeping their village pub open at a public meeting arranged to discuss the future of the Foresters Arms.
Held in the village Hall, the meeting attracted a large number of concerned locals hoping to discuss the situation relating to the village pub that closed it doors several weeks ago and is now for sale at the asking price of £225,000.
Chairing the meeting, parish councillor Raymond Brown explained how important the pub was to the village and the purpose of the meeting was to explore ways of seeing it re-open.
Mr Martin Booth who as a member of the committee, helped organise the community purchase of the George and Dragon at Hudswell gave an illustrated talk. Explaining the steps taken to set up this successful venture, Mr Booth outlined the structure of the community partnership. There were approximately 200 people who invested the majority of the money necessary to buy the pub.
Tenants working closely with the community are now running the business, which following payment of the rent is to pay a dividend of about 3% to the shareholders. Mr Booth was thanked for his very clear presentation and the ensuing questions showed strong interest in a similar purchase of the Foresters Arms.
One complication to any potential purchaser is a pending planning application to convert part of the property into housing. The initial hearing supported by a report commissioned by the National Park was held in January. The previous occupants Claire and Andrew Pritchard who wanted a partial change of use to form three two-bed roomed dwellings for local occupancy made the application.
Those present at the meeting were urged to write to the planning authority, the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and express their opinion. Any potential objectors were also encouraged to attend the planning meeting at 10.30am on Tuesday April 12th at the National Park offices at Bainbridge when the final decision on the application will be taken.
A potential commercial purchaser of the Foresters Arms was welcomed to the meeting by the chairman Mr Brown, who stressed that the interest of the meeting was primarily in seeing the Foresters re-open. He explained,“ Anyone looking to purchase the pub can draw strength from the support of the community demonstrated here tonight.”
It was pointed out however that community ownership would put the community in control of the situation with the pub, which they felt had a chequered history recently.
A show of hands from those present indicated a substantial majority in favour of investigating the possibility of community ownership with a steering group formed. Those interested in supporting the venture left their contact details at the end of the meeting.
Speaking after the meeting Mr Brown said,“ Due to the support shown at the meeting we are to form a committee to progress the idea and are looking for those interesting in investing in the venture to give pledges of support. I am happy to hear from anyone, not just those who live in Carlton.