Time ticking to claim cash to set up community shops in North Norfolk

Time is running out for communities in North Norfolk to claim a share of a �110,000 haul to set up their own shops.

Rural communities charity Plunkett Foundation has teamed up with Victory Housing Trust and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation to offer the grants, loans and specialist advice to communities wishing to buck the trend of rural decline in their areas by establishing shops owned and run by the themselves.

But if the money is not claimed by January 2012, it will then be offered to communities across the rest of Norfolk.

And the Plunkett Foundation is encouraging any community in Norfolk wishing to save or open a community-owned shop to contact them now, as they may be able to receive help in the interim.

The North Norfolk scheme is currently being run as a pilot, and if successful could be the model for a nationwide programme of housing associations providing the impetus to expand the network of community shops.

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Three community shops exist in Norfolk, at Itteringham, near Aylsham, Great Ryburgh, near Fakenham, and Mileham, near Dereham.

Those behind the Victory and Plunkett Foundation initiative have already identified 20 unnamed communities in the north of the county which meet the criteria for supporting a community shop.

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James Alcock, community retail manager at the Plunkett Foundation, said: 'Community ownership saves 5pc of all village shop closures and since 1975, 97pc of all community-owned shops have survived.

'We're extremely pleased to be able to reach out to even more communities in North Norfolk to help them save their village shop through community ownership.'

? Interested communities should contact the Plunkett Foundation on 01993 810730 or email james.alcock@plunkett.co.uk.

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