Update: 25th July 2021

Dear all,

We hope this email finds all of you and yours well. We have several key updates for our supporters mailing list, please read on!

Community Ownership Fund is LIVE!

The big one we’ve been waiting for – the Community Ownership Fund (COF) is now open! The deadline for first-round applications is 13th August 2021. The CCG steering board is working hard to pull together all elements of our bid and, having attended webinars about the scheme’s project eligibility and funding criteria, we believe we are in a strong position to be considered for match funding.

Important points:

  • The CCG is eligible to apply for *up to* £250,000 in match-funding in capital grant funding (to be used to purchase the pub and complete necessary repairs, renovations and refurbishment).
  • Additionally, the CCG can apply for *up to* £50,000 in revenue grant funding, which does not have to be match-funded. We will need revenue funding to run the pub in the period between community acquisition and the instalment of a suitable tenant.
  • The first-round funding bid submission deadline is 13th August 2021.
  • Decisions on first-round applications are due to be released in October 2021.
  • Capital grant funds required to complete asset acquisitions are expected to be made available to groups almost immediately once the successful applications are announced.
  • The full COF prospectus, application form and assessment criteria can be found on the government’s webpage: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/new-levelling-up-and-community-investments

Although hopeful about our chances of success with the COF, the CCG are also actively investigating potential alternative funding sources, including the Cooperatives UK Community Shares Booster Programme: https://www.uk.coop/start-new-co-op/support/community-shares/booster-programme/apply/guidance and funding available from the Public Works Loan Board: https://www.dmo.gov.uk/responsibilities/local-authority-lending/about-pwlb-lending/

Our Community Share Offer

The steering board have drafted our detailed community share offer document (thank you to Skeeby Community Pub Society for allowing us to use their ‘Standard Mark approved’ share offer doc as a template). We will have our share offering assessed by an independent assessor with the aim of having it awarded the ‘Standard Mark’ – an industry standard award for high quality community share offerings. This document will contain all the information you need regarding your investment in the community share offering for the Countryman’s.

We hope to launch our share offer at the beginning of September. The offering will be open for share purchases for 4-6 weeks thereafter. A short ‘priority access’ window will be offered to those who pledged in principle during our initial community consultation in April/May of this year. Share purchases will then be opened up to the wider community and general public. Our community share investment ceiling is expected to be set at £230,000. Having already received ‘pledges in principle’ for community shares to a value of over £199,000, we advise potential shareholders to respond to the formal share offer promptly in order to secure their shares. Shares will be £1 each with a minimum buy in of £500 (500 shares). We will of course contact pledgees and our full mailing list as soon as we have a date for the formal community share launch, and upon the launch itself. Please keep an eye out for updates!

Business Plan

We have worked closely with Charlotte Foster, a Plunkett Foundation appointed advisor, to develop and polish our business plan, which will form a key part of our upcoming funding bid to the Community Ownership Fund. The full business plan will be released alongside our formal share offer.

The steering board have worked with the Plunkett Foundation to submit an application to the Financial Conduct Authority for the group to be legally incorporated into a Community Benefit Society. The group will be renamed during the incorporation process as the ‘Countryman’s Community Pub Society Limited’ (CCPS). The application was submitted on 8th July and we hope to be awarded Community Benefit Society status in early August.

Building Survey

The CCG instructed local surveyors JohnsonClark of Melsonby to carry out a full building survey on 7th July 2021. We have received back a comprehensive report of the current state of the pub’s premises. The required repairs appear to be financially manageable and will be incorporated into our refurbishment plans and application for capital funding to the COF.

Further Fundraising: 

Having recently paid for the full building survey and legal incorporation, the CCG’s working capital pot is in need of replenishment in order to cover the costs of solicitors’ conveyancing fees. We therefore we plan to hold some further fundraising activities. Please keep an eye on your inboxes, postboxes, and the CCG’s Facebook Group for announcements. You can also still donate to our PayPal pool; any amount is greatly appreciated! The link to the pool is here: https://paypal.me/pools/c/8yOnV0NhDW

A standing reminder of other news from our June update:

Asset of Community Value: The CCPS have submitted a nomination to Richmondshire District Council to have The Countryman’s Inn listed as an Asset of Community Value. We await RDC’s formal response. More information about what ACV status means can be found here: https://mycommunity.org.uk/what-are-assets-of-community-value-acv

Agreement of a sale price with the current owner: Taking into account a multitude of factors and sources of information (including an independent valuation and market appraisal report paid for by the CCG), the CCG steering board have made an offer to Anthony Jackson, the current owner of The Countryman’s Inn, which has been accepted subject to the usual due process and contract. We thank you for your patience regarding the release of these details to our membership. As you can appreciate, this information is highly commercially sensitive, and we will therefore release the relevant information within appropriate formal documentation in due course. The agreed sale price figure will be included in the CCPS’s formal share offer document. This figure also informs the group’s business plan.

We will write to you again with further updates in the coming weeks.

With thanks and best wishes to all,

The CCG steering board.

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