One could argue that January 2017's wasn't the first community consultation about the fate of the King's Head—just the most recent.
When the strong possibility of the pub closing for good arose in 2014, a petition was organised to demonstrate support for keeping it open. Nearly 240 people from Whiteparish and surrounding areas signed, and as argued elsewhere, that almost certainly understated the breadth and depth of support for the old place, to say nothing of the affection that so many of us had for it.
In the same year, Neil Sutherland, who is also involved in the current initiative, started the "Friends of the King's Head, Whiteparish" Facebook page, which has seen some "lively" discussions since and still has 92 followers.
And in the summer of 2016, an effort was made to recruit parties who might be interested in investing, but was blighted by a few problems, including distribution of the initial flyer.
The King's Head Community Group—another bunch of King's Head enthusiasts, including some of those involved in earlier efforts—got together in the latter part of 2016 to plan another initiative. The new one relied heavily on polling Whiteparish villagers to gauge the level of support (which we were convinced was still out there) for the idea of a re-opened King's Head, and to investigate realistic paths towards being able to buy the pub outright from the current owners. It was recognised that lessons needed to be learned from previous initiatives, and that two things that absolutely had to be in place were better and wider consultation, and better communication with the village.
The 169 completed survey forms returned to us in January provided the answers: nearly all those surveyed supported the re-opening, and we now knew what they would like to see offered by a re-opened King's Head. At the end of the month, the 29th January Public Meeting brought solid pledges for investment in the purchase, and of voluntary work in kind, to help it happen, together with an overwhelming vote of support for the idea of going ahead to the next stage: applying to the Plunkett Foundation for a bursary (since granted) to help with immediate expenses.
That's up to Whiteparish. The bursary was awarded in late February 2017. This meant that we were able to apply for a Community Benefit Society (CBS) to be registered, and would be able to obtain a valuation of the property. The CBS (applied for in April 2017, and registered in May) is the legal entity we will need for managing incomings and outgoings, and hopefully the eventual purchase. Meanwhile, we will go ahead with gathering further pledges and further fundraising. There will very likely be further consultations! The short-term aim must be to raise enough funds from share purchases and other sources to be in a position to make an offer for acquiring the freehold of the pub. The key element will be the level of share purchases.
If we can't raise the money, the King's Head pub could well be lost to Whiteparish forever. A village that once supported four pubs, and even now–we firmly believe–could support two, will be down to one. Let's try not to let that happen!