As noted on the home page, it was a sad day when the King’s Head pub closed in 2014, and our community has clearly lost a vital village hub. At the time of writing this introduction (January 2017) the King's Head is being offered for sale, and could quite possibly become residential housing. It would then be lost to the village as a pub for ever. And that would be a real shame. There's a great reservoir of affection for the dear old "King's" in Whiteparish, which was borne out in 2014 when nearly 240 villagers and others signed a petition in an effort to keep the pub open. (Bearing in mind that some potential signers would have been away at the time, and others possibly didn't get to hear about it, it's not a huge stretch to speculate that the total might otherwise have approached 300 or even more).
So in 2016 an informal steering group came together in the form of the King's Head Community Group, to discuss what could be done, and agreed that the only real hope was to find some means of raising enough funding to buy the King's Head property outright.
In the absence (as far as we knew) of a "white Knight" investor to buy the pub from the current owner, we contacted the Plunkett Foundation, who help pubs and other community facilities to open or re-open. Under their ‘More than a Pub’ initiative, Plunkett can provide a small bursary to get a Community Benefit Society under way which, as a legal entity, can start the process of raising funds via the community to purchase the King’s Head. They can also provide a grant and loan to help bridge to the full funds needed to purchase, refurbish, and open the pub.
Although getting some limited financial help from Plunkett would be an important contribution and very useful, there was no getting away from the fact that we would need to raise the majority of the purchase price from the community. Hence the survey that started on the 13th January, to try to assess how important a re-opened King’s Head pub would be to people living in and around Whiteparish. Other questions helped to identify what services and facilities people would like to see provided. Respondents were asked to be as honest and realistic as possible in their answers, and were reassured that the survey was entirely anonymous, unless they chose to add their name at the end.
The results of the survey were presented at a public meeting held in the Whiteparish Memorial Centre on Sunday 29th January, along with an explanation of what it was felt was the likely and best way forward towards eventual acquisition of the pub as a community venture. After a lively Question and Answer session, the meeting demonstrated overwhelming support for going ahead with the next step: to apply to the Plunkett Foundation charity for a bursary to help with initial expenses, notably the cost of having the property valued. We also started the process of collecting pledges for share purchases (which can be between £250 and £100,000), donations of any amount, work in kind, or simply moral support!
This kind of venture has been successfully achieved in other communities all over the UK. According to CAMRA there are currently around 70 community or co-operative pubs operating in the UK and very many of these have been set up with the support of the Plunkett Foundation. We are very hopeful that our community could be the next one!
Elsewhere on the website you can find more information about community pubs and co-operative pubs, about community benefit societies, about community consultation, and the Plunkett Foundation. See also our Questions & Answers page, which we will be refining and adding to throughout the project.
If you would like to arrange to speak directly to someone in the village about this project, please see our Contacts page.