A community campaign to buy the Black Bull pub in Lowick got off to a positive start at a well-attended public meeting on Friday.
An offer to purchase the Black Bull has been accepted from Lowick Community Ventures Ltd; the company set up to help the village to buy back and run one of its well-known pubs.
There is now an urgent need to raise funds to buy the freehold of the pub.
Mark Dodds, project manager, explained that Lowick Community Ventures Ltd had been formed to purchase the pub and run it.
This community benefit company will be used as the legal vehicle used to apply for social enterprise and other grants the pub may qualify for.
It will also manage and administer a Community Share Issue to supplement money raised to buy and refurbish the pub.
The pub will operate as a Community Benefit Society, will have an asset lock and will be used solely for community benefit.
The society and its management committee are managed in accordance with the Plunkett Foundation model rules and code of conduct.
Committee member Diane Chisholm went on to explain that community benefit societies were ‘not for profit’.
The share issue would not be the tradeable shares that people are probably more familiar with.
These shares would be ‘withdrawable ‘which means that investors could take their money out after a period of time if they needed/wanted to (provided the company had the ability to repay). In the meantime, investors would get modest dividend payments.
Diane said the best way to think about it was like a long-term deposit on which you get some interest paid each year.
If the company was ever wound up then the building would be sold and any surplus after the shareholders had been repaid would be given to other local community establishments.
The meeting was also attended by Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan.
The meeting followed the acceptance of an offer to buy the pub.
Hawthorn Leisure, the owners of The Black Bull, put the property up for sale, but campaigners successfully applied for it to be made an Asset of Community Value which means it cannot be sold for any other purpose than as a pub until 2019. Lowick Community Ventures’ offer of £150,000 plus VAT (£180,000 total) was accepted in early September.