Co-operative can inspire others to save their pubs

COMMENT: All agencies must to held to account for Anne Savidge’s tragic death

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Do you remember that classic TV advert in which American businessman Victor Kiam, owner of Remington razors, enthused: ‘I liked the shaver so much I bought the company’?

Well, the residents of Denmead have done something similar. They liked their pub so much they bought it – and now a big clean-up is planned this weekend ahead of The Fox and Hounds’ re-opening.

In one of the first deals of its kind in the area, campaigners refused to let their local die and set about raising more than £300,000 to buy the 140-year-old building and prevent it being flattened and replaced by housing.

Remarkably, they reached their target. Contracts have been exchanged, the proud new owner of the pub is the Fox and Hounds Community Co-operative and shares can be bought to help pay for the pub’s renovation – estimated at another £250,000.

As well as villagers, people with links to Denmead from as far away as Australia, USA and Canada have pledged financial support.

Community finance consultants have offered financial and professional support and companies with local links are also getting involved. The village’s Co-op store has given £1,000.

It’s a great story and an example of just how people power can win the day. It also illustrates the strength and value of community and how a single issue can bring together people of all ages and walks of life – and from all over the world.

The other aspect to this tale is that it reinforces the value of the traditional British pub. Sadly, so many are closing their doors and we are losing a valuable part of our heritage.

But not in Denmead. The residents there had a determination not to see their beloved local disappear and instead have worked hard to ensure it remains as an important social amenity.

We think what has happened in Denmead should inspire other communities to band together and try to protect their pubs.

No-one is pretending the licensed trade is easy these days. But with the support of a community, pubs like The Fox and Hounds still have a bright future.