4,000 years of pub history saved by community buy-outs

Over 4,000 years of pub history has been saved thanks to communities buying and taking on the lease of their local pub.  This is just one of the findings of a new report launched by the Plunkett Foundation.

With an average of 28 pub closures per week, communities in villages, towns and cities are losing their local pub.  An increasing number of communities are setting up co-operatives to buy their pubs to prevent them from closure.  The report, Co-operative Pubs 2014 – A Better Form of Business highlights how the number of co-operative pubs grew by over 60% in 2013 alone.

Peter Couchman, Chief Executive of the Plunkett Foundation, said: “Pubs are a national institution.  For too long communities have felt powerless to prevent the closure of pubs that are important to them.  Our new report shows that 2013 was a breakthrough year for co-operative pubs with record numbers opening saving millennia of pubs history.  From small villages to cities, communities are forming co-operatives to save their local.”

The Plunkett Foundation runs a national Co-operative Pubs Advice Line which provides advice and support to communities looking to form a co-operative to save their local pub.  Plunkett helps communities through the whole process, from start-up support through to running a group buying scheme for existing co-operative pubs.  Plunkett also runs a dedicated network for co-operative pubs via www.pubs.coop. In England communities can register their local pubs as Assets of Community Value, to give them time to save their local pub if it is put up for sale.

The report’s key findings:

  • 4,000 years of pub history has been saved by communities taking over their local pub

  • 28 co-operative pubs open and trading across the UK.  23 co-operative pubs open at the end of 2013

  • Co-operative pubs owned and controlled on average by 200 members, made up mostly of people local to the pub

  • 64% growth in number of co-operative pubs in 2013 alone – 8 new co-operative pubs opened

  • To date no co-operative pubs have closed

  • On average communities raise over £200,000 themselves through community shares

  • Over 4,000 people can say they own their village pub.

Although the tradition of community engagement with selling beer goes back to the Middle Ages (most churches were funded through it), Co-operative Pubs are a relatively modern development. Most current pubs use a model developed at the Old Crown, Heskett Newmarket in Cumbria. It opened in 2003.

“It is about so much more than just saving your pub”, said Peter. “It is about a community deciding what it wants to be and then taking co-operative action to achieve it.”

Communities looking to save their pub through co-operative ownership can access support at http://www.pubs.coop

Peter Couchman is Chief Executive of the Plunkett Foundation | @PeterCouchman

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