Villagers in the Peak District are pressing ahead with renewed vigour their ambition of taking over the local pub after a sudden change of heart by the pub’s owners.
They hope their success in persuading Admiral Taverns to allow them to run the Angler’s Rest in Bamford as a pub, post office, café and bunkhouse accommodation will encourage more people to buy community shares.
Bamford Community Society was dismayed when the pub company said it was selling the premises to a developer, despite local people having raised £184,000 in six weeks to run it as a social enterprise.
It was even preparing legal action in what it argued was a test case for the new Localism Act. Villagers were overjoyed to be told the company had changed its mind.
“We were absolutely speechless,” said Liz Marshall, of the society steering group. “None of us could quite take it in. We were going down a different road to challenge the sale and going back to Plan A is wonderful. There was real buzz around the village when the news got out.”
The campaign had reversed the belief that big business was better than the big society, she said. It had succeeded by “being focused and showing sheer determination as a community. We think it’s an opportunity for Bamford to find its identity again. The revival starts here!”
The more the society raises in community shares, the less it has to borrow, last estimated at £140,000. “We have got this far and now we have got to make it work,” added Liz. “We can actively set things in motion legally and exchange contracts as soon as possible.”
Local MP Andrew Bingham had been “extremely helpful” with the campaign “and credit where it’s due to Admiral Taverns for doing the right thing”.
Admiral Taverns managing director Kevin George said: “While the original purchaser was entirely committed to maintaining the pub as a pub, with the potential of incorporating additional community services, such as a post office, both they and Admiral Taverns recognise the strength of feeling expressed by the residents of Bamford regarding the Angler’s Rest.
“It is clear that the local community feels passionately about taking ownership of the pub themselves. Consequently, in the days since the original sale was agreed at the end of August, and in the wake of considerable campaigning by the BCS, we have worked to rescind the sale agreement.
“We are very proud of our reputation. We strongly believe we have always acted reasonably and with the highest integrity – our motivation in all our dealings with the Angler’s Rest was to secure the future of the pub. As we became aware of how important this situation was to the BCS and local community, we sought to address it to everyone’s satisfaction.”
Battle to keep a community shop
Residents of Grindleford are battling to keep a community shop in the village.
They want to keep open the option of using the former Country Choice shop, which is earmarked for conversion to a hot food takeaway.
But Peak Park planning officers say it can be changed because it has been shown a shop is no longer viable.
The planning committee decides tomorrow (Friday).