At our Good Shepherd meeting on Saturday 4th February, we discussed how we can move forward as a community to save the Dyke Pub – and put in a community bid to buy it. There was overwhelming support for the idea, so here’s the Chair of The Dyke Pub Preservation Society to tell you more…

Hello, I am Woody and following on from all the great work done by everyone in the Save The Dyke Pub group so far, I decided I wanted to pursue the idea of a community buyout of the Dyke Pub. I am not necessarily against any other options that get us back our pub but I believe that community purchase is the only option where we can actually have some control. I also believe that a community purchase of the freehold is the only sure way to guarantee the long term future of the place as a valuable community asset (pub). My first experience of community activism was when I went down to join the protest shortly after the pub was closed. I met good people there who cared deeply and over time I have become more involved with what you might call the core group. I’m sure that some people might feel that having a core group at all is elitist and undemocratic. What it actually is is a bunch of people, who didn’t know each other previously, who have come together through the magic of Facebook and have cared enough to try and do something about a wrong situation. There is no other agenda other than saving the Dyke Pub.

So what am I doing about it?

1. I formed a committee with myself as chair and Jo bravely offered to be Secretary. We are separate from but aligned with the Save the Dyke Pub group.
2. I decided to call our committee The Dyke Pub Preservation Society (DPPS) because I thought it sounded cool. The DPPS has the sole aim of purchasing the freehold to the Dyke Pub in order to guarantee it’s long term future as a valuable community asset. Nothing else. It doesn’t seek to make huge profits for anybody and it won’t be getting into any other activities. If we fail to buy the freehold to the building the DPPS will cease to exist.
3. Last week I spoke with and had email contact with the Plunkett Foundation (www.plunkett.co.uk). They provide support to community actions such as ours. I have also been in contact with Dave Boyle (communityshares.co.uk) who you may remember from previous meetings. Hopefully they will be convinced by the Dyke Pub Preservation Society and will offer us the advice and assitance we need. It’s not a decision they will take lightly since it involves actual money but the early signs are hopeful and we should have confirmation by the end of this week. (Update, 8th February: Plunkett have confirmed their support!)
4. The DPPS was introduced at the meeting last Saturday 4 Feb. I was impressed at the turnout, mortified when I realised I had to sit at the front and absolutely blown away when we had the show of hands to see who supported the idea of a community purchase!
5. Following the meeting we had two people come and volunteer to join the committee. Thank you Judith and Paul. This is important since we need at least 3 committee members in order to be able to legally incorporate. If you feel you have some particular skill you can offer (legal, planning, accountancy, construction, hospitality etc) then please contact us but please don’t all rush at once. The DPPS has a tightly focussed aim and we want a maximum of 10 committee members to avoid getting distracted from that aim.
6. I am carrying on (and trying to keep calm)

What next?

I’m no expert but this is how I think things should pan out:
1. We write our mission statement for the Dyke Pub Preservation Society and publicise it.
2. We incorporate as a limited liability Community Benefit Society – this will allow the DPPS to raise funds,pay for things and buy stuff.
3. We register for VAT (thanks to the Half Moon Pub guys for that bit of free advice).
4. We hold elections to the committee – this is a democracy after all and if someone thinks they have something to offer then they should stand up. I’m not tied to the chair and would be proud to support the DPPS from the back benches.
5. We research – find out how other community pubs were purchased and how they are run after the purchase.
6. We ask for your opinion. What do you want to do with the space? How can we make it better than it ever was?
7. We write and publish a detailed business plan.
8. We apply for a mortgage (independent valuation required).
9. We apply for grants and other loans.
10. We offer shares in the company and raise as much money as possible to keep the mortgage as low as possible.
11. We buy the pub (and the kitchen and the upstairs and the garden).
12. We run the pub for the benefit of the whole community, using the profits to pay off the mortgage, pay interest to shareholders and invest in the community.

What can you do?

1. Come and join in with community activities. Maybe have a go at organising something yourself.
2. Post your thoughts and ideas on the Save the Dyke Pub Facebook and Twitter pages. Spread the word to those that either don’t know what’s going on or who don’t believe we can get our pub back.
3. Stay positive. We can and we will get our pub back and it will be better than it ever was.
4. Write to your local councillor/MP and tell them how much you miss the Dyke Pub.
5. Don’t believe rumours and don’t spread rumours without checking your facts first.
6. Stay respectful – we are all good people and we all want the same thing.
7. Be a bit patient – we all have other commitments and some things will be taking place without publicity. However, we will try our best to keep you informed every step of the way and we welcome your input.
8. Save your pennies ready for the share offer and encourage friends and family to do likewise.

Notes

Having looked at the different options, I think a Community Benefit Society (CBS) is the best model for what we want to do.
A CBS is focussed on benefitting the community above it’s shareholders.
If we run it right there should be a healthy tax break on your investment.
If we run it right we should be able to pay interest on your investment.
The Dyke Pub Preservation Society should be as democratic as possible, therefore 1 member 1 vote, regardless of how much you invest. This is also a fundamental requirement of the Plunkett Foundation.

This is an exciting time for the campaign – please share the news with friends and neighbours and stay tuned for the latest updates!