Marston residents have succeeded in the first step of a campaign to save their beloved pub, The Thorold Arms.
After both the pub and its accompanying shop closed down last summer, villagers united to draw up a plan on what they could do to ensure it remains a community building.
The initial idea was to get the pub registered as an asset of community value (ACV) with South Kesteven District Council, and on Christmas Eve they received confirmation they had succeeded.
This enables the community to put together a bid to buy the premises themselves, within six months. If it is sold to another buyer, its inclusion on the ACV register limits developers looking to change the building’s use.
Campaign organiser and Marston resident Ian Tyler said: “We are very pleased that SKDC has accepted our request for ACV status for The Thorold Arms.
“We are aware the legislation has a loophole that allows the receivers to sell the property to anyone without notice. However we are hopeful that the ACV will delay or discourage potential developers, giving us time to do the necessary work to acquire the pub as a community enterprise.”
Now the attention turns to raising the funds needed to purchase the pub as a community. It is currently on the market for £250,000. To assist them in their goal, the campaigners are working on an action plan with The Plunkett Foundation, who help rural groups in setting up community co-operatives.
The Plunkett Foundation’s Katherine Darling said: “We’re supporting this group because they’ve clearly demonstrated that there is widespread community engagement and support for what they’re doing – almost 80 people attended a recent community meeting.
“Co-operative pubs are owned by the community, for the community; they have their roots within the community, and bind people together in a way that few other things are able to do.
“They offer a way of securing and saving something precious, and, once trading, become so much more than a place to have a drink – they are important social hubs, often offering additional services, opportunities for volunteering and training, and always providing members of the community with somewhere to meet that is truly their own,” she added.
The Plunkett Foundation has also organised a fact-finding visit for the campaigners to The Anglers’ Rest in Bamford, which became the first community-owned pub in Derbyshire when it was purchased by over 300 people.