Rallying cry to help Shouldham villagers buy and run their pub

PUBLISHED: 12:41 13 June 2013 | UPDATED: 12:41 13 June 2013

Residents of Shouldham are trying to buy the village pub The King's Arms. Picture: Ian Burt

Residents of Shouldham are trying to buy the village pub The King's Arms. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2013

A rallying cry has gone out to residents of a village which lost its last remaining pub to club together and buy the venue so it can be reopened as a community-owned venture.

From August, anyone with a spare £50 will be able to purchase shares in the King’s Arms, in Shouldham, in a bid to raise the £315,000 needed to take it into community ownership.

The EDP is backing a campaign by villagers to take over the pub, which closed in June last year after its landlords struggled to keep up with rent payments, and run it themselves with villagers each owning a stake and profits being donated to good causes in the community.

They have already formed their own company, Shouldham Community Enterprises Ltd, with a view to buying the empty building from current landlord Punch Taverns and have nearly got it listed as a “community asset” by West Norfolk Borough Council.

That means the community would be given a window of opportunity to express an interest in buying the asset, and another window of opportunity to bid for it, giving the Save Our King’s Arms (SOKA) campaign a real hope of buying the property – provided it can stump up the cash.

SOKA chairman John McGourty said supporters had “rallied around with the intention of buying the pub, returning it to its former glory and establishing a convivial meeting place and valuable asset for the benefit of the village”.

He added: “We think the King’s Arms should be owned and run as a community venture, functioning not only as a financially viable and welcoming pub but also as a hub for other village-based initiatives.

“This is our chance to put the King’s Arms at the heart of village life and make a contribution to the whole fabric of the community.”

Before its closure, the much-loved pub in The Green was often described as the heart of the village where residents mixed and many community events were organised.

Its closure left residents fearing that the community of Shouldham, which once boasted a total of six pubs, would suffer as a result.

“There is a feeling we’ve got to do it – not just for ourselves but future generations too,” SOKA secretary Phil Harriss said.

Campaigners hope people will buy a larger number of shares to help them reach their fundraising total. Shareholders will be able to have a say in the running of the pub.

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