All pubs are facing extremely difficult trading conditions, but it appears that a community-owned pub’s direct connection with local residents (and customer base) has made them flexible, adaptable and responsive to community needs. In turn this has led to them incorporating new services and income streams that have helped them to be robust in these difficult times.
Their success is further supported by the hard work and determination of the community groups and volunteers that set them up to work in the interests of their community. Owned and run by their community they often offer ‘much more than a pub’, running pop-up post office services, shops, lunch clubs, toddler groups, mental health awareness workshops and the type of activities that help re-invigorate their communities.
At Plunkett we believe that community-ownership could combat further sector decline if the right legislative and funding measures were put into place to support groups. One of Plunkett’s central policy ambitions is to see a Community Right to Buy offered to communities in all 4 UK nations, to protect buildings, services and community spaces for the benefit of all.
Our recent research into urban community-owned pubs and ‘cold spots’ identifies areas of growth where community-ownership could help even more communities and places to thrive. Plunkett advisers are already working closely with over 250 community groups, across England, Scotland and Wales, all preparing to safeguard their local pubs. We believe that Government funding, such as via the Community-Ownership Fund and targeted support at the very early stage of a project’s development will be essential to help groups progress towards successful trading and allow their communities to recover and prosper through the creation of jobs, training, increased interaction and establishing a hub that brings people together.
With the West Midlands identified as the area of greatest decline for pubs in this week’s news – Plunkett is proud to be working with the West Midlands Combined Authority to support and offer free advice to communities facing the loss of a well-loved and valued community pub. If you live in Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, Coventry, Wolverhamption, Birmingham or Solihull and want to know more about community-owned pubs please get in touch.
For all communities embarking on these projects – it’s about safeguarding a space that has the opportunity to become a social hub for all, that helps to retain a sense of place and ignite their plans for the future.