Hands up to buy our pub – Community launches campaign to open first Costal Community Pub
“It’s not just a pub – it will be a community hub”, says the Mawbray community who are campaigning to save their local pub, buying it and reopening as a community enterprise. They have stepped up their awareness campaign and launch their share offer on Tuesday 18th August
The Lowther Arms Community Project (LACP) is looking to raise £300,000 to reopen and transform the Lowther Arms at Mawbray. The pub sits a stone’s throw from the beaches and dunes of the Solway Coast, so locals believe it would become the UK’s first Coastal Community Pub.
LACP Spokesperson Christopher Atkinson said “This is not just about buying a pub; it’s about preserving the heritage in our village, investing in the future of the parish for our locals, our visitors and the businesses that rely on tourism. If we don’t buy the pub now it is likely to be lost forever.
The Parish Council were successful in having the pub listed as an Asset of Community Value, which ensures the community has the right to bid when listed for sale.
“To buy, re-open, and transform the pub, we need to raise money through donations and by selling shares in the Lowther Arms Community Project Limited. All shareholders become Members of the Society, owning a piece of the Lowther Arms.
“There is a growing market for community pubs and evidence that if the community is invested in the project, they will make more effort to use the pub and contribute to its success.
“We know from our research that 86% of the local community would use the pub on a regular basis. And we’re planning to extend what the pub has to offer, introducing better broadband, and additional services including a café, shop and revitalised caravan and camping site whose additional income streams are essential for success.”
LACP has already received some great pledges, but they are now also looking for support from the wider public and businesses. The task of raising the money has been made more challenging with the COVID-19 lockdown, with some fundraising events cancelled, so they are turning to social media in an attempt to attract a wider audience.
Explaining how people can buy a slice of the Lowther Arms Chris said “Firstly, you need to be over 18 years to invest. Shares cost £50 each with a minimum investment of £100 and you can buy as many as you want up to 600 shares (£30,000 in value). Individuals, groups and businesses can also invest – and they can also be bought as a gift. The application form is on our website or one can be posted out on request.
“It may seem a difficult task, but we know community owned pubs do work. In the UK, 122 pubs have been taken over by community cooperatives, reinvigorating pubs that were once struggling businesses. And since 2004, not one community pub has closed.”
The campaign to save the much-loved Lowther Arms has already been awarded support from More Than a Pub: The Community Pub Business Support Programme.
LACP is receiving a package of specialist business advice and a £2,500 bursary from More Than A Pub, which is a £2.2m programme established to help support community ownership of pubs in England, funded by Power to Change. It is being delivered by Plunkett Foundation in collaboration with Co-operative & Community Finance, Key Fund, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), Co-operative Mutual Solutions, Pub is the Hub, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and Locality. When a group is ready to purchase a pub, More Than A Pub can offer a combined finance package of up to £100,000, made up of a loan and grant.
Plunkett Foundation’s Executive Director, James Alcock, said: “We’re so pleased to be able to support The Lowther Arms Community Project who are working hard to make sure their community can benefit from everything that having a thriving local pub brings. Pubs that are owned and run by the community are so much more than a place to buy a drink; they provide important social spaces and services for local people and are central to their community’s sense of place and identity.”
Creating a campaign to open a pub during Covid lockdown has been challenging – but the team worked ‘All hands together’ – from a socially distancing perspective.
Pulling in all aspects of the community, they have created a socially distanced community video and are encouraging people to spread the word about the share offer by sharing stories, videos and messages on their Face Book page @lowtherarmscommunityproject
Chris said, “We’re especially keen to seek support from those who love the Solway Coast and want to preserve and support the sustainability of our costal community – whether they want to buy shares or simply want to make a donation.”
Some people just want to make a donation – so a donation link has been added to the website too. Anyone who is interested in buying shares or making a donation can find out more at www.thelowtherarms.co.uk.
History of the pub:
1847 – The Lowther Arms is listed in the Cumberland Directory and has pretty much traded ever since. The pub has a conservatory, a beer garden and beyond the car park, a registered caravan and camp site. Like many pubs, it has seen tough commercial times and sadly, the pub closed in December 2018 and is now on the market.
When does the share offer close: It closes whenever the maximum mount is reached or 1st October – whichever is sooner – but the Management Committee reserves the right to extend the offer.
More Than a Pub: The Community Pub Business Support programme aims to bring pubs into community ownership and to increase the range of services they offer to help local people. This new £2.2million round of More than a Pub, makes a range of support and funding available until September 2020. The support includes allocated business development advisers, help with community consultations, advice on legal forms, business planning, community share offers and bursary awards of up to £2,500. Groups can access the full range of support from the pre-venture stage, or just the elements they need, depending on how well their plans are developed. When a group is ready to purchase a pub, we can offer a combined finance package of up to £100,000, made up of a loan and grant. www.plunkett.co.uk/more-than-a-pub
Plunkett Foundation (www.plunkett.co.uk) helps communities to take control of their challenges and overcome them together. Plunkett supports people, predominantly in rural areas, to set up and run life-changing community co-operatives; enterprises that are owned and run democratically by large numbers of people in their community. They help people to tackle a range of issues, from isolation and loneliness to poverty, and come in many forms including shops, cafes, pubs and land-based initiatives, and everything in between.
Power to Change is the independent trust that supports community businesses in England. Community businesses are locally rooted, community-led, trading for community benefit and making life better for local people. There are nearly 7,000 community businesses across England employing 35,500 people, with a combined income of £1.2bn. From pubs to libraries; shops to bakeries; swimming pools to solar farms; community businesses are creating great products and services, providing employment and training and transforming lives.
The National Lottery Community Fund The National Lottery Community Fund are the largest funder of community activity in the UK – they’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Since June 2004, they have made over 200,000 grants and awarded over £9 billion to projects that have benefited millions of people.
The National Lottery Community Fund are passionate about funding great ideas that matter to communities and make a difference to people’s lives. At the heart of everything they do is the belief that when people are in the lead, communities thrive. Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, their funding is open to everyone. They’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.