A "community pub" is one that is truly owned by the community. The community buys shares in a community organisation – in this case it would be the Whiteparish Community Benefit Society Ltd (not necessarily the final name), which would purchase and own the King's Head property, and then probably appoint a tenant to run it on behalf of the community. People who buy shares in the society become Members, or part-owners, of the pub and have a say in future decisions about the pub by electing a management committee and voting at Annual General Meetings.
There are strong reasons for pursuing a community purchase of the King's Head. Firstly, it is a one-off opportunity to buy the pub, securing its future for Whiteparish and King's Head fans from surrounding areas.
Secondly, if any other buyer were looking to buy the pub, get a change of use granted, and turn the site into a residential house, it would be much harder to do this with a groundswell of local support for the pub. And of course with the change of use we'd have lost the King's Head pub for ever.
And, lastly, it means we will once again have two flourishing village pubs in Whiteparish, which seems like the "Goldilocks number" for our village, for us and future generations.
Community ownership will give locals a say in how the pub is run and gives us a chance to create the kind of pub we want. We could extend the range of facilities offered and make fuller use of the community-owned pub building and garden for all kinds of community-oriented purposes. We've got lots of ideas but if you become a shareholder it will be your pub too and you can help us decide how it's developed and run!
A community pub isn't a new idea. According to CAMRA there are now around 70 community pubs across the UK that are open and trading. Two that have recently been saved with help from the Plunkett Foundation and are not a million miles away are the Drovers Inn in Gussage All Saints (near Wimborne), and the Abingdon Arms in Beckley, (south Oxfordshire).
Community share schemes are not only used to purchase pubs; they are also used to finance all sorts of other community ventures too, like shops, food schemes, renewable energy projects, and even football clubs.
The main reason for investing is to secure the long-term future of the King's Head as a viable community pub. We all want places to meet friends and socialise, have a drink or meal, and to take our families. This is not an exercise to generate large profits for the members or to 'grow' your investment. The primary return on your investment will be a flourishing King's Head for the community—not just for one family as would be the case if it changed to residential use. In addition, you may earn a small amount of interest and your liability will be limited.
As a member, you will also have a say in future decisions about the pub. What you won't get are windfall profits or any share value increase. We hope soon to publish a share offer prospectus which will provide more detail. We firmly believe the business will be profitable but, in the unlikely event that it isn't, the society will own a valuable asset – the building and the land associated with it – which could be sold to return funds to investors. Your investment is in the buildings and the land, not the licensed business. That will be the responsibility of the tenant.
(Many thanks to the Beckley and Area Community Benefit Society for permission to adapt some of the text in their website for inclusion here.)