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Rocklands community pub plan gets £110,000 in pledges

PUBLISHED: 08:00 01 October 2011

Residents of Rockland All Saints are campaigning to buy their village pub.

Residents of Rockland All Saints are campaigning to buy their village pub.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

A community campaign to buy a closed Norfolk pub is a third of the way towards a fundraising target after hundreds of residents attended a meeting to try and reopen it.

A new group was formed by people in Rockland All Saints in August to encourage locals to resurrect their only local - The White Hart.

Officials from the Rocklands White Hart Community Association spoke of their delight after the appeal hit the £110,000 mark following a public meeting, which was attended by more than 150 people.

There was standing room only at the village hall last Wednesday and the community group is hoping to raise £300,000, which they hope will be enough to secure the village’s only pub.

The White Hart has been closed for almost a year and fears have been raised that the building could be converted into a private home.

Jonathan Graham, chairman of the Rocklands White Hart Community Association, said he was “pleased” that the campaign was a third of the way to their target.

“We have had pledges from a substantially further area than Rocklands and from people that live in Wymondham, Carbrooke and the other side of Attleborough. It is probably a 15 mile radius and probably the area it used to draw its regular customers from,” he said.

The pub, which has been in the hands of Binz and Sally-Ann Leeder for the last four years, is on the market for £380,000, but locals hope £300,000 will be enough to make a successful offer and to buy it for future generations.

The community association is inviting people to submit pledges at £250 a share and is no longer applying a £5,000 maximum limit per person.

Mr Graham added that they would be holding another public meeting when the pledges get nearer to the £300,000 and hoped to have all the pledges in by the end of October.

“A huge proportion of those who have pledged have also offered help and if you are going to put your money into something like this, then most people want to get involved to look after their money. The continuous involvement should ensure that the pub is delivering what people want,” he said.

The newly-formed association plans to employ a full-time manager and chef to operate the pub and would be run as a cooperative so that each member had one vote on operational matters, regardless of how much they had put into the scheme.

New ideas for the pub building, which was rebuilt in 1930 following a fire, include introducing an internet cafe, community garden, boules, social club and meeting point.

For further information, visit the website at www.rocklandswhitehart.co.uk, email localslocal@gmail.com or call 01953 747787.

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