“It’s not just a pub – it will be a community hub”, says the Mawbray community group which is campaigning to save their local pub, buying it and reopening as a community enterprise.
The Lowther Arms Community Project (LACP) is looking to raise £300,000 to reopen and transform it.
The pub sits a stone’s throw from the beaches and dunes of the Solway Coast, Cumbria so locals believe it would become the UK’s first coastal community pub.
LACP Spokesperson Christopher Atkinson said “This is not just about buying a pub; it’s about preserving the heritage in our village, investing in the future of the parish for our locals, our visitors and the businesses that rely on tourism. If we don’t buy the pub now it is likely to be lost forever.
“The Parish Council were successful in having the pub listed as an Asset of Community Value, which ensures the community has the right to bid when listed for sale.
“To buy, re-open, and transform the pub, we need to raise money through donations and by selling shares in the Lowther Arms Community Project Limited. All shareholders become Members of the Society, owning a piece of the Lowther Arms.
“There is a growing market for community pubs and evidence that if the community is invested in the project, they will make more effort to use the pub and contribute to its success.
“We know from our research that 86 per cent of the local community would use the pub on a regular basis. And we’re planning to extend what the pub has to offer, introducing better broadband, and additional services including a café, shop and revitalised caravan and camping site whose additional income streams are essential for success.”
LACP has already received some great pledges, but they are now also looking for support from the wider public and businesses.
The task of raising the money has been made more challenging with the COVID-19 lockdown, with some fundraising events cancelled, so they are turning to social media in an attempt to attract a wider audience.
To buy a share investors need to be over 18 years. Shares cost £50 each with a minimum investment of £100 and you can buy as many as you want up to 600 shares (£30,000 in value). Individuals, groups and businesses can also invest – and they can also be bought as a gift.
Atkinson said: “It may seem a difficult task, but we know community owned pubs do work. In the UK, 122 pubs have been taken over by community cooperatives, reinvigorating pubs that were once struggling businesses. And since 2004, not one community pub has closed.
The campaign to save the much-loved Lowther Arms has already been awarded £2,500 support from More Than a Pub: The Community Pub Business Support Programme.
“We’re especially keen to seek support from those who love the Solway Coast and want to preserve and support the sustainability of our coastal community – whether they want to buy shares or simply want to make a donation.”
When a group is ready to purchase a pub, More Than A Pub can offer a combined finance package of up to £100,000, made up of a loan and grant.
Anyone who is interested in buying shares or making a donation can find out more at www.thelowtherarms.co.uk
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