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Worried about losing your local?

Matt | 01 Jan 2018

A co-operative pub is owned by the community, for the community. Here at Plunkett Foundation, we are excited to be supporting more community groups than ever before on their journey to save their local pub for the long term. Securing a pub under community control is not just about ensuring the community has somewhere to meet for a drink, it also means that a far reaching social benefits are created through a wide range of community focused activities. 

They truly have roots within the community, and are so much more than pubs, they are highly sociable places that bring together people of all ages, backgrounds, interests and give them a purpose to interact. Every member of a community can benefit, whether they are new residents wanting to meet their neighbours, young parents who feel isolated at home, teenagers seeking work and life experience, the retired seeking opportunities to remain active, or those who live alone or are carers and have no other way of meeting people. Put simply, co-operative pubs address social isolation and loneliness in communities all across the UK.

At Plunkett we advocate the co-operative approach. A co-operative pub is owned and controlled by a large number of people from within the community - typically around 200 people. Pubs saved in this way are governed democratically on the basis that each member gets one vote, regardless of how much money they invested. In our view this is important, because we know that most communities are made up of people with very mixed incomes, and the co-operative model makes sure that everybody has the opportunity to be part of saving and running their pub as well as having a say about what's important to them.

Seven Stars, Marsh Balton. Credit: The Plunket Foundation 

How do you set one up?

If the pub in your community is up for sale and you are worried about its future, here’s a starter for ten on setting up a co-operative pub, but remember each communities journey is unique! For more information contact the Plunkett Frontline Team directly on 01993 810730.

Contact Plunkett Foundation as soon as possible

Our advice line can provide information and advice to communities at all stages of their journey setting up or running a co-operative pub, and signpost to other relevant organisations and sources of support. 

By contacting the advice line at the outset, Plunkett will be able to advise you of the current support available through Plunkett, how to register your pub as an Asset of Community Value (ACV), signpost you to the most relevant information and resources, and help to clarify the next steps you need to take to get your project off the ground. We will also encourage you to join our co-operative pubs facebook group so that you can chat with other community groups in the co-operative pub sector.

Form a founder member committee and consult with the community 

Whilst the idea for a co-operative pub will often start with just one or two individuals, it is important to involve a wider group of people as soon as possible. This will give assurance to the community that it is a community project and encourage more people to take notice and get involved. By consulting with the wider community, you can establish whether the community are willing to invest in the project and identify people with relevant skills to get involved.

The Bevy. Credit: The Plunket Foundation 

Hold a public meeting to update community on questionnaire and elect a committee 

Gauge the support and raise awareness of your project. This is an opportunity to explain the concept and options for the project and encourage people to get involved. You will also need to elect a management committee to take on the responsibility of setting up the community pub.

Select a suitable legal structure

Co-operative pubs need to adopt a recognised legal structure in order to trade. Once incorporated as a legal entity, the co-operative provides limited liability to those involved, taking away the risk on the committee members. We can advise you on the right type for you.

Work up a business plan

This is a valuable tool for setting out your aims and objectives for your pub, as well as defining what you want the pub to offer. Plunkett can provide support with business plan templates and through our team of experienced advisers.

Raise required level of finance

As well as engaging your community in local fundraising; you can also look to loans, grants and community share schemes to raise your capital.

Purchase and refurbish the pub

Once you have secured your premises and finance, you need to consider ‘the look’ of the pub, as well as the practicalities of layout, equipment and furnishings. Ensure your style appeals to majority of community and is fit for purpose for your community activities.

Join Plunkett Foundation as a member

We actively encourage the communities we work with the become members. This helps us keep in touch with our groups and gives them continued support to ensure they continue to thrive. Our members are entitled to many benefits such as energy, insurance, banking and telecoms and our offering is expanding all the time.

Get the correct licensing

Ensure you have correct licensing for selling alcohol and you are compliant with all legal requirements and best practice trading processes. 

Make sure you tick the boxes for licensing and health and safety.

Publicise the launch date and open for trading!

Celebrate, throw a party and congratulate yourself for all the hard work. Time for a beer!

The Craufurd Arms, 50th Coop Pub. Credit: Maidenhead Advertiser

What support is available?

We’re excited to be leading the More Than A Pub project, a unique two year programme established to help support community ownership of pubs in England. 

Support will be targeted at community groups looking to take on ownership of their local pub. As valuable community assets, support will enable groups to deliver and evidence significant social benefits and impact. Support will be available to help groups develop their ideas but we are seeking groups committed to delivering a community pub for the benefit of the wider community, overcoming local issues. These activities could include the provision of employment and volunteering opportunities, work place training and additional services such as a shop, post office, library, internet café, cash point, prescription services and informal meeting spaces for a range of community activities.

A comprehensive package of business development support, advice and loan and grant funding has been developed to assist community pub businesses consider their viability at all stages of their development, including flexible bursary awards of up to £2,500 (inclusive of VAT) to fund pre-feasibility costs such as public consultation and valuations.

Find out more at and don’t hesitate to contact the Frontline Team on info@plunkett or 01993 810730. 

You can also keep in touch with Plunkett through:

Twitter @plunkettfoundat

Instagram @plunkettfoundation

Our website

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