By Claire West
The dream of owning a pub is set to become a reality for hundreds of people after a group of Brighton residents today (Saturday, 1 December ) reveal ambitious plans to re-open their ‘local' as a community-owned enterprise.
Members of the team behind the plans - which includes the local vicar - have formed a co-operative and launched their community share issue with support from The Co-operative Enterprise Hub.
It costs from just £10 to co-own The Bevendean Pub in East Brighton and residents are looking to offer a warm welcome to investors from around the world as they set about raising the £200,000 needed to re-open the pub and establish a much needed community facility.
The newly formed co-operative plan to bring the pub, which has been closed since 2010, into community-ownership and, alongside the real ale and locally sourced food, offer a café, meeting room for local societies, community kitchen, an edible pub garden and, eventually produce its own electricity.
Warren Carter, a member of the newly formed co-operative, said: "it will be so much more than just a pub, it will be a ‘village hall' with a difference in an area that is in desperate need of somewhere for people to meet!
"This is an investment in our community but we would welcome investors who have always dreamt of owning their own pub. Indeed, we think it could make the perfect Christmas gift for the dad who already has everything.
"We want to create a unique asset and help to make the area a more vibrant, thriving and sustainable place to live. And, although the investment could provide a return, we want people to view it primarily as a social investment - a beacon of just what is achievable in other parts of the country."
Michael Fairclough, The Co-operative's Head of Community and Co-operative Investment, said: "We are witnessing communities across the country, driven by needs other than to maximise profit, turning to co-operatively-owned solutions for the running of businesses and services.
"A well run pub is an important part of the social fabric of a community and, enterprises such as this - operated by a general public increasingly concerned for accountability, transparency, and sustainability - are showing how by working together, communities can tackle some of the unprecedented challenges currently facing our society, environment and economy."
The UK is witnessing a resurgence in co-operative-led solutions to the running of businesses and services. Figures show a near ten per cent increase in UK co-operative enterprises - rising from 5,450 (in 2010) to approaching 6,000 (5,933) in 2011, with a combined UK membership up by 5.5 per cent to 13.5 million people. UK co-operatives have a combined turnover in excess of £35billion.
The Co-operative Group - the UK's largest member-owned organisation with 7 million members - has pledged a further £4m over the next three years (2013-15) to developing The Co-operative Enterprise Hub. Forming part of its commitment to keeping communities thriving, the free service provides the specialist advice needed for community-owned enterprises to get off the ground or grow.
Father John Wall, added: "I've been in Moulsecoomb for seven years and I always think that a real community needs a good church and a good pub. St. Andrew's church is really behind the co-operative pub, in fact, it's part of our Mission Action Plan to support it - I'm looking forward to becoming a regular."
For a copy of the prospectus or to find out more go to www.thebevy.co.uk
Other community groups interested in co-operative solutions to the running of businesses and services can contact The Co-operative Enterprise Hub by visiting www.co-operative.coop/enterprisehub
The launch event for the community share issue takes place on Saturday, 1 December, from 6pm at St.Andrews' Church, Hillside, Moulsecoomb. This will be followed by a fundraising benefit gig afterwards in St.Andrews Hall featuring local bands and Bevendean Pub's pop-up bar.