Shouldham residents have vowed to fight to save their ‘local’ and have set their sights on buying the 350-year-old King’s Arms.
The picturesque hostelry overlooking the village green is the sole survivor of at least four pubs which thrived in the village in Victorian times.
Sadly, it closed in June, 2012, and is now up for sale for £315,000.
Local residents have decided to take action and plans are afoot which could see the King’s Arms become Norfolk’s first community-owned pub.
About 50 people attended a public meeting in the village to find out more about community ownership and the Save Our King’s Arms (SOKA) action group.
Speakers included Andrew Purdy, who set up and operates the village shop in Great Ryburgh as a community-owned venture.
Mr Purdy told the meeting the shop was owned by the village, run by the village for the village.
“The best thing about the project is the way it has brought the community together,” he said.
Andy Shaw, the Campaign for Real Ale’s regional pubs officer, explained a 15-point plan Shouldham villagers should follow towards community ownership.
As a first step towards making a bid to buy the building, Shouldham Parish Council is to ask West Norfolk Council to list the pub as a community asset.
Phil Harriss, who called the meeting, said an enthusiastic committee had been formed to take the project forward.
A co-operative was envisaged to buy the pub and find a tenant to run it.
The co-operative would in time raise funds by issuing shares.
SOKA is keen to hear from anyone who would like to help and anyone with a specific skill or experience to offer.
The group can be contacted on 01844 238868 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr Harriss said: “We’re not about to let the King’s Arms go without a fight - not on our watch.”
BUCKING THE TREND?
According to research by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), 16 pubs are closing permanently across Britain every week.
are pubs still vital community facilities?
One survey suggested that 84 per cent people believed a pub is as essential to community life as either a shop or a post office, but CAMRA’s website states: “Despite their popularity, pubs are currently under threat as never before.”
WHAT HAPPENS TO OLD PUBS? While some pub owners are seeking to convert their buildings for other uses, CAMRA believes there is still hope for the group in Shouldham.
They said: “There are many examples of communities successfully fighting to save their local pub.”
how can the pub be saved?
CAMRA officials say the planning system is often the best way of stopping a pub from being lost forever.
They said: “Despite all the threats to pubs, the good news is that their are numerous thriving pubs up and down the country which would be private houses or heaps of rubble if it were not for the efforts of local campaigners like members of SOKA in Shouldham.”