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Full steam ahead to buy £250,000 community pub for village

Villagers in Swanton Abbott are keen to purchase the village pub from the current owner so they can run it as a community. Picture:  Sonya Duncan

Villagers in Swanton Abbott are keen to purchase the village pub from the current owner so they can run it as a community. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Archant 2017

Residents in north Norfolk are pressing ahead with plans to buy a village’s only pub for the community - but need to raise about £250,000 in just six months.

A meeting was held at Swanton Abbott village hall on Tuesday, December 11 to gauge the level of support in the village to buy the Jolly Farmers.

The 19th century pub has already been registered with North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) as an asset of community value.

Gill Kimmerling, clerk to Swanton Abbott Parish Council, said: “We had about 60 people at the meeting, out of a village population of 366.

“I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people who turned up. We asked for a show of hands of people in support of having a community pub, and there’s a lot of support in the village.

Villagers in Swanton Abbott are keen to purchase the village pub from the current owner so they can run it as a community. Picture:  Sonya DuncanVillagers in Swanton Abbott are keen to purchase the village pub from the current owner so they can run it as a community. Picture: Sonya Duncan

“We had six weeks to register our interest in buying the pub, which we have done. And now we have about six months to raise £250,000 to buy the pub. That’s not as bad as it sounds, as there are a lot of grants available.

“We will have another meeting in the New Year to discuss the next stage.”

She said that, while the pub was still open, it was only sporadically, and the signage had been taken down.

She added: “NNDC has told us that the landlord plans to dispose of this asset, which we have taken to mean he wants to sell it.

NNDC's Saul Penfold addressing the meeting at Swanton Abbott village hall. Picture: Gill KimmerlingNNDC's Saul Penfold addressing the meeting at Swanton Abbott village hall. Picture: Gill Kimmerling

“It’s run-down and is not currently viable. The owner had it on the market for two years and said he could not sell it.”

The meeting was attended by Richard Dixon, from the Norwich and Norfolk branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), and North Norfolk District councillor Saul Penfold.

Current landlord and owner Les Christman, who bought the pub for about £180,000 about seven years ago, did not wish to comment.

But he admitted at the end of August that business was “very difficult” due to a lack of customers.

Villagers need to raise £250,000 to buy the Jolly Farmers as a community pub. Picture: Richard DixonVillagers need to raise £250,000 to buy the Jolly Farmers as a community pub. Picture: Richard Dixon

However, he said at the time that rumours in the village about his premises closing were not true.

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