We are not Alone!

Communities band together to save local shops and pubs.

This is a fantastic example of a local community getting together to save the character and amenities of their village. Although different in some aspects this is very much what we hope to achieve for Hougham and Marston in reopening The Thororld Arms.

The article quoted below is about a number of community lead projects but concentrates particularly on Toppesfield, which was the village visited by Ian Tyler, when attending a Plunkett Foundation workshop in early December.

It all started 15 years ago when the shop threatened to shut permanently. Then after the pub was put on the market by the Admiral Taverns some 4 years ago they banded together again and now run the pub, shop and, more recently still, a brewery as community enterprises.

In Toppesfield, a village with a population of 500 some 20 miles north west of Colchester, resident Alan Collard is proudly discussing his role as a volunteer shop worker.

Collard and a handful of neighbours collectively run the local village store, which they took over in 2001 after the former owner moved away…

In many ways, Toppesfield was ahead of the times in its attempt to create better amenities. The group raised almost £70,000 to finance its shop 15 years ago, largely through grants and a small community share sale. The money was used to build a new shop next the village hall, seen as a better location as it is on the main road…

At the time, the community-ownership model was largely undeveloped. It was only when the community right-to-buy legislation came in under the Localism Act in 2011 that the model became a serious option for other villages, because it meant local action groups could offer investors a return on their money, and more flexible share schemes…

Toppesfield’s shop is not only a place to buy bread and milk, it has become somewhere residents visit regularly to meet friends, leave messages, post items and to pick things up, says Collard. The shop, staffed by volunteers, makes a profit of around £4,000 a year, which is reinvested in local projects.

The villagers are so pleased with their venture that when they heard the local pub was up for sale four years ago, they decided to buy that as well. Taking on a pub is a bigger venture altogether, as shareholders invest higher amounts of money and therefore expect a greater return.

This time, Collard and the committee raised £156,000 from more than 150 people in the village. The pub is run as a business…

This is a very inspiring example. Please go to the original Online Telegraph article by Elizabeth Anderson and read the story in full.

We are one of the 100 groups looking to save their local amenities who are being helped by the Plunkett Foundation.