Bishampton Public House and Post Office
The Dolphin was put up for sale in March 2013, but the local community wanted to find a way to buy it themselves and retain a valuable community asset. The pub had been opened and closed a number of times over the last five to six years and Bishampton Parish Council took the decision to start a project which would see the pub retained in the village.
The Dolphin had previously been owned by Enterprise Inns and officially went on the market in March 2013. The Parish Council quickly formed a working group and had the pub listed as an asset of community value under the new Community Right to Bid.
The Council then began preparing their proposal and funding after the local community had backed the project. Community engagement began with talking to different stakeholders, including local residents and the Parish Council employed the services of a surveyor to help with professional advice.
The Council's initial offer for the Dolphin was rejected as it had just come onto the market but was finally accepted which saw the Parish Council securing a Government Public Works loan of £300,000*.
The Parish Council has not raised its precept to cover the loan and will not be making a profit. The income from leasing the pub to a landlord will repay the loan and an amount of money is set aside each month to cover any maintenance that is required.
Some of the local community had expressed concerns about taxes being increased; however, the Parish Council has agreed that as long as the pub continues to be leased there would be no increase in their precept. As a result the local community have really supported this venture to ensure it remains in the village.
The Parish Council advertised the project on BBC news and as a result had a positive response from potential new landlords, 10 in total. The pub reopened in August 2013 under a new landlord with support from around 30 volunteers including residents, the Parish Council and the new landlord who all provided funding and time to refurbish the pub, including roofing, carpets and the kitchen.
This is not the only time the parish council has stepped in to protect local services as back in 2011, they also bought the village post office and stores. It was in danger of closing for good but residents wanted to keep it open and Bishampton and Throckmorton Parish Council stepped in.
Michelle English, parish clerk, said:
"This was an ambitious project as there was no information available to the Parish Council on how to purchase a pub. As time was not on our side the working party were putting in many hours each day to achieve our goal in order to complete the sale and have the pub open by the 3rd August. The Parish Council has learnt some valuable lessons and has since drawn up their own “lessons to be learnt” document. Given the opportunity I would do this project again."
Lee Jones, the new pub landlord, said:
"The pub has been well supported by residents of the village. I wish to thank the Parish Council and volunteers who put so many hours into this project and made it a dream come true. The Dolphin can only go from strength to strength with support from residents of Bishampton and passing trade."
For further information please contact Bishampton & Throckmorton Parish Council on firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 07896879414
* The Public Works Loan Board is a government body that lends money to local authorities.