Residents of Northumberland village launch bid to save The Forge Inn pub at Ulgham
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The Forge Inn, located in Ulgham, has been closed for business since 2019. In the same year, it was placed on the Asset of Community Value register with Northumberland County Council by the local parish council.
And now that the owner has informed the county council of their ‘intention to dispose’ of the asset as per the Localism Act 2011, the fight has started to keep the pub in local hands.
There is a deadline of March 5, 2024, for an offer to be accepted, so the newly formed Community Benefit Society (CBS) of residents have been working as quickly as they can to put together a business plan.
This includes giving people in the area – and further afield – the chance to apply for shares in the CBS. They will be on offer from now until December 31.
If all goes to plan, the premises would become a community hub – trading as a daytime café and public bar serving food from lunchtime to late evening, seven days a week. There would also be a small community shop to serve the village and also visitors.
The management committee members are chairman Dave Wilson, his wife Deb Wilson, Neil Jamieson, Jen Ames, Lisa Crichton, Paul Barton and Mark Turnbull.
They are aiming to raise between £300,000 and £450,000 to buy the Forge building and land, and refurbish the property. After the initial shares phase, grant applications, crowdfunding and sponsorship will be explored if more funding is needed.
Dave said: “Saving The Forge Inn and turning it into a community hub means we would have a fantastic asset in the village that would benefit many people.
“With the Asset of Community Value expiry date being 2024, me and Deb felt it was important to discuss the situation with fellow residents and a positive meeting took place in May.
“A subsequent survey had an excellent 60 per cent response rate (representing 203 adults), with 87 per cent supporting a community bid. This meant that once the ‘intention to dispose’ process started in September, the CBS and management committee were quickly formed.”
For more information and to apply for shares, go to https://the-forge-at-ulgham.co.uk