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Community bid for Rushton village pub

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: August 30, 2014

The Royal Oak.

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SHARES could go on sale as early as October to allow village residents to buy their local pub.

In March plans were submitted for The Royal Oak in Rushton Spencer to be registered as a community asset under the new Localism Bill by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council.

The nomination was put forward by The Royal Oak Community Group.

Following long discussions and after having the pub listed as a community asset, the group is now applying for incorporation as a co-operative under the name of Rushton Oak Community Pub Ltd.

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Village resident Sam Hughes decided that something should be done to see what could be done to protect the pub.

She said: "Our plan is to try to buy the pub, if we can agree a realistic price, by raising money through the sale of shares to the community.

"We are still completing the picture of what the share offer will look like, but I can say that initial thoughts are that shares will cost £50 each, with a minimum shareholding of £250 and a maximum of £100,000.

"We will be looking to give shareholders a modest return on their investment when funds allow. Each shareholder, in accordance with the rules of a co-operative society, has one vote irrespective of the amount of shares they hold.

"If we are successful in buying the pub we will offer a tenancy to run the pub, which would be a free house.

"We will work with the tenant to maximise their opportunity to benefit from a successful business.

"The aim is to focus on "local". Local beers, people and food.

"Once funds allow we hope to convert part of the pub into bed and breakfast accommodation and to build a state-of-the-art kitchen.

"In the shorter term we hope to operate a selection of community services like a parcel drop off, village store and meeting area."

The share offer is expected to be made on October 8 and will be available to anyone 15 years old and above.

If all goes to plan the group hope to open the pub in their name during December or January.

The Community Right to Bid part of the Localism Act allows communities to ask councils to register buildings and land that play an important part in local life.

Once a building has been successfully registered, an owner deciding to sell the building must first inform the council and then hold back on the sale for six weeks to allow the parish council or local community groups to decide if they would like to buy the property.

If the local community does want to bid to purchase the building, the owner is required to suspend the sale for a period of six months – which allows the community the opportunity to raise money to make a purchase.

"However, the owner does not have to sell to the community group even if they meet the asking price.

The Royal Oak plan has received the support of ward district councillor Norma Hawkins.

She said: "I fully support what the group are doing. This is a wonderful venture.

"This is just what the village needs as we do not want to lose any more pubs.

"The group have worked so hard to bring this all together and I wish them every success."

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