What is it all about?
The purchase of the freehold of The Railway Inn, on behalf of the community, to secure its future as a key village amenity and to expand its role as a “hub” for other activities.
How will it be done?
We are currently researching what grants and low-interest loans may be available, both locally and nationally, but it is clear that these will only form part of the fund-raising that is required. We will need a significant sum to purchase, refurbish and adapt the pub. As part of the grant applications, we also need to establish how much the community is prepared to invest and whether there is a genuine willingness in the village to contribute sufficient funds to make this project viable.
At the moment our legal status is that of an unincorporated group, but as we proceed toward completion we will form a co-operative called “The Railway Inn Community Venture”. You become a member by buying shares. The primary objective of the Society is to buy the pub and then employ a tenant or manager to run it as a business, for the benefit of the community. The profits are reinvested, paid to shareholders as interest and used for other community projects within the surrounding areas. The Society will be a Community Benefit Society and be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority.
At present the informal steering group consists of 12 ad-hoc volunteers, all of whom will resign at the first AGM when a new committee will be elected. Anyone who invests the minimum of £50, which will be the price of a single share, will have a vote and therefore a say in the affairs of the pub at the AGM.
Early indications suggest that some people may purchase a larger number of shares (legal maximum £100,000) but as we want as many shareholders as possible, at this stage we are restricting the number of shares held by any individual to 200(£10,000).
The Society will operate democratically on a “one member, one vote” basis regardless of how many shares held. It is our aim that the share issue will meet national standards of good practice.”.
Once profitable the Society will aim to pay an annual interest to shareholders above base rate. Our shareholders should also be able to claim tax relief on their investment on their PAYE form through the government’s SEED tax relief scheme. To give the business a chance to establish itself shares must be held for a minimum of 3 years after which time you can apply to withdraw your shares. The extent to which shares can be withdrawn will be dependent on the liquidity of the society and subject to no more than 10% of shares being withdrawn in one year.
The share offer remains open so new people moving to the area are free to buy in.
We are drawing up a detailed business plan and financial projections supported by The Plunkett Foundation’s consultants and are confident that with your support and the appointment of the right manager the business will be profitable and comfortably support the costs involved.
In the unlikely event that the society fails, all the assets (i.e. the buildings) would be sold and the proceeds of the sale would be used to repay any debt. Thereafter, shareholders would be paid and any remaining monies are given to a local community or charitable fund.
The more of you who are able to pledge a donation or buy shares and the wider the section of our community that is actively involved the more customers we will have! It is this engagement of local shareholders that has made community pubs such a resounding success. It is what will speed our progress to returning The Railway Inn to its rightful position as one of CAMRAs National Pub of the Year finalists.
We appreciate that some of you will not be interested in purchasing shares and may prefer to make a donation to the project instead, which will be very warmly received.
Some individuals may also wish to support the project in ways other than financial and their help would be gratefully received. If we are successful in acquiring the pub, practical help will be needed to carry out planned improvements. This will help us to contain costs. Also, we would welcome any assistance with fundraising please tell us if you have particular professional or practical skills that you think would be of use to the society and if you have time and enthusiasm to support a management structure.
To help us judge the level of support we would be grateful if you would fill in the online pledge form, with how much money you are prepared to ‘pledge’.
No money changes hands at this stage and this is not a final commitment on your part. More financial information and a detailed prospectus will be provided in due course; before you finally, commit to buy some shares or make a donation. We appreciate that many of you will want your pledges to be kept confidential and so only the Chairman and Treasurer of the committee will have sight of individual pledge amounts, the rest of the group with totals only.
The open public meeting held on May 15th, 2017 was attended by 216 people, who voted unanimously to support our work. We hope that this enthusiasm will be converted into generous pledges and donations.