A village pub is officially owned by the community of Balcombe following an eight month long campaign by locals to save it.
The Half Moon Inn in Balcombe was put up for sale in April 2016 by Enterprise Inns before a working committee formed to investigate the prospect of a community purchase.
A meeting was held in October 2016, with more than 150 attendees, to show local support for the campaign as pledges were received to help turn the Half Moon Inn into a community-owned pub.
Since the meeting, a community benefit society – the Balcombe Community Pub Limited – has been hard at work raising the £300,000 plus needed to buy the pub through a community share offer, which enables people to invest between £250 and £100,000 to become members of the pub.
Rodney Saunders, Secretary for Balcombe Community Pub, Ltd. said: “Village support has been critical and our success is a testament to the strong community spirit in Balcombe. Over 300 villagers invested to keep our pub a pub.
“We are also grateful for the advice and support from Plunkett Foundation. With their help, we didn’t need to ‘reinvent the wheel’ and we are proud to have joined the growing ranks of community-owned pubs.”
The group has received advice on community engagement and setting up a co-operative, including a £2,500 bursary, from the More Than A Pub: The Community Pub Business Support programme. This is a two-year project delivered by Plunkett Foundation and established to help support community ownership of pubs in England.
The Half Moon Inn will become the third pub to open after receiving this support, which is funded by The Department for Communities and Local Government and Power to Change.
Pubs Minister Andrew Percy said: “Our pubs are a great British institution. From historical inns to village locals, they provide an informal setting where people can get together and socialise. In rural areas they can also provide valuable services for local people.
“Thanks to the More Than a Pub programme and local campaigners, the Half Moon Inn will now stay at the heart of the community.
“This is a great reason to celebrate with a pint, and I hope the other new owners benefitting from the programme will raise a glass to the success of their businesses too.”
Plunkett Foundation’s Nicole Hamilton, Project Manager for More Than A Pub, said: “We’re thrilled to see The Half Moon Inn opening under community ownership. It will be so much more than a pub - it will provide an important social space and give the community a sense of place and identity.
“With plans to continue to build on providing even more opportunities for local people, we wish them every success.”
The Half Moon Inn is due to open on Tuesday (January 24) under Balcombe Community Pub Ltd ownership with tenants Enterprise Inns agreeing to be tenants at will.
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