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Public house

Toppesfield villagers save the Green Man pub with ground-breaking community buy-out

14-12-2012 | Villagers in Toppesfield, North Essex, have bought themselves an early Christmas present - the village pub! The Green Man public house, which was owned by Admiral Taverns, has been purchased by Toppesfield Community Pub Ltd (TCP Ltd), after being on the market for a number of years. The thirsty villagers formed TCP Ltd, which is based on the Industrial & Provident Society model, and raised over £150,000 through a share subscription to fund the purchase. Additional finance was secured through a Triodos Bank mortgage and a substantial donation from a charity with local connections.

Chair of the TCP committee, Alan Collard, said: “This is an incredible achievement. To secure the pub’s future, when so many pubs around our way are closing down, is a fantastic boost for the community. The support and encouragement has been overwhelming and people have voted with their wallets to preserve our local. Christmas certainly has come early and we’ll be raising a glass to each other to celebrate!”

Work to buy the pub started back in March, with a number of meetings held to gauge interest from the community as to whether the purchase was viable. The Industrial & Provident Society model was chosen as the best way of extending ownership to as many people as possible.

One pub, 150 landlords

Over 150 residents and friends have bought shares in TCP Ltd, which will own the freehold of the pub. This is the second successful community initiative undertaken by Toppesfield residents. In 2002 they built their own village shop and post office which has been staffed on a voluntary basis since then. The village shop was able to support TCP Ltd with a grant of its own.

TCP Ltd was advised by the Plunkett Foundation, the national organisation supporting rural community enterprises; Triodos Bank, an ethical lender, provided the commercial mortgage, and local solicitors Holmes & Hills LLP carried out the legal work.

Peter Couchman, Chief Executive of the Plunkett Foundation, said: “We’re delighted for the community of Toppesfield and their incredible achievement of not only saving their village shop, but now their local pub. An estimated four rural pubs close every week, but community ownership is a viable and successful solution to this problem thanks to its widespread engagement of the whole community, who feel empowered to ensure the business is a success; for example, 97% of community-owned shops to have opened in the past 25 years have stayed open, highlighting the long-term sustainability of the model. We wish Toppesfield Community Pub every success for the future and hope other rural communities are inspired by them to save their own pub through community ownership.”

“Toppesfield residents have demonstrated how much can be achieved when a community comes together to pool its time, energy and resources. Particularly in the current economic climate, community ownership has huge potential to put land, power and profits back into the hands of the people. The Green Man is a major social asset for Toppesfield and putting the pub into public ownership will help protect the community’s lifeblood into the future,” added Mark Ogden, relationship manager, Triodos Bank


Press information issued by John Levick – 07973 521227

Notes to Editors:

About Triodos Bank

Triodos Bank only finances enterprises which create social, environmental or cultural added value. Key sectors include organic food and farming, renewable energy, social housing, and fair trade. Transparency is a core value: customers are informed about the bank’s lending and can target their savings to particular areas of investment. A range of personal savings accounts is offered, and full banking services are available for businesses and charities. Triodos Bank is an independent bank founded in the Netherlands in 1980. Its principles and independence are protected through a special shareholding trust. The UK office opened in 1995 and is based in Bristol.

The Plunkett Foundation

The Plunkett Foundation is the national centre of expertise for rural communities looking to take control, through community ownership, of the issues affecting them. Plunkett helps communities to set up enterprises in rural areas that are owned and led by those communities. It also supports existing rural community enterprises by providing a range of support services.

A co-operative pub is where a significant part of a community comes together to form a co-operative to try and save and run their local. Co-operative pubs are different because they encourage widespread community ownership at a level the majority of the community can afford. Co-operative pubs are set up on a ‘one member, one vote’ basis rather than a ‘one share, one vote’ basis. This creates a democratic way of running a community business and ensures that everyone has a say in how they want their local pub to be run. Like any business, a co-operative pub aims to be profitable - it is what happens with the profit that sets it apart from a private enterprise. A co-operative pub can distribute profits to the members, reinvest the profit in the business or distribute funds in the community for the benefit of the community.

Toppesfield Community Pub Limited (‘TCP’)

TCP was established as an Industrial & Provident Society and registered at the FSA in July 2012.   It is managed by a management committee comprising 8 members and operates in line with rules based on the Plunkett Foundation model.  TCP has in excess of 150 shareholder members and whilst the majority live in Toppesfield and Gainsford End, a substantial number live elsewhere in the UK and as far afield as Canada.

For more information please contact Alan Collard, tel. 0780 104 2545

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