Regulars at Bell pub in Bath launch community share offer to buy it
Regulars at an 18th century Bath pub have formally launched their plan to stage a community buyout to save it from being bought by a chain.
A community co-operative is being formed to buy The Bell Inn in Walcot Street, after it was put up for sale by owner Ian Wood at the end of last year.
Customers and staff at the pub have joined forces with The Co-operative Enterprise Hub to create the co-operative, and today launched a share issue in a bid to bring the pub into community ownership.
People attending today's launch event heard more about the pub, and met the team behind the plans.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
Supporters of the pub are being asked to buy shares, which start from £500.
Those behind the scheme hope the £925,000 asking price can be raised through shareholders paying in between £500 and £20,000 to keep the pub renowned for its live music out of the hands of a national chain.
One of the organisers Steve Henwood, who has been running live music at the pub for 20 years, said: “The Bell is a thriving and popular pub and people from all over the country have expressed concern at news of its sale.
“We decided to do something about it and, have been delighted with the support and interest received so far.
“Our aim is quite simple really, to encourage the widest possible membership and bring the pub into community ownership, then ensure all the great things that people love about this historic free house continue to go from strength to strength.”
The community co-operative has been supported by city MP Don Foster, who is also Communities Minister and who said he was pleased to see people pulling together to save the pub.
He said: “The Bell is a cornerstone of the Walcot community and I am delighted to see that people are pulling together to save one of Bath’s great pubs.
“The shareholder scheme is a great example of community spirit in action and testament to the determination and appetite of local people to shape the future of their neighbourhood.
“As Communities Minister, I recognise the importance of community-led initiatives and we are giving power back to neighbourhoods through localism schemes such as the Community Right to Bid.
“Coupled with community action, this scheme will provide opportunities for people to step up and step in to save the facilities and buildings that are important, giving them the time to ‘stop the clock’ on sales so they have the time to get together a bid and ensure that prized local assets can live on, this time run by the local community for the local community.”
Sue Marsh, 42, who lives near the pub and has used it for years came along to hear more.
She said: “The Bell is such a lovely pub, and I would hate to see it taken over by a big chain and changed.
“It is so unique, there is not another pub like it, and the thought of losing it saddens me.
“I think the community co-operative is a great idea, and I am interested in being involved.
“I am keen to find out more.”
Ian Cooper, 39, from The Paragon, said: “What a great idea.
“It is nice to see people pulling together to save this much loved pub.
“I am keen to help, and make sure that it continues for years to come.”
The Co-operative’s head of community and co-operative investment Michael Fairclough, 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 are showing how by working together, communities can tackle some of the unprecedented challenges currently facing our society, environment and economy.”
For more information visit www.bellcommunity.org.uk.