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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Community’s bid to save Cumbrian pub ends in failure

A community's desperate bid to save a village pub has had to be abandoned.

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Trying their best: Greg Wilson, of Blencowe Community Pub Ltd, says the group fell short of its funding target

Residents united as part of a “last ditch” attempt to rescue the Crown Inn, which is situated between a clutch of villages including Blencow, near Skelton, Penrith.

When it shut its doors in September, its loss left a hole within the community.

Inspired by the success of other community ventures, residents formed an action group, held public meetings and registered the pub as a “community asset”.

Offers of support came from as far afield as Australia and in September the Blencowe Community Pub Ltd formally opened itself up for people to buy shares.

Greg Wilson, 43, who was acting as spokesman for the group, said: “Unfortunately, when it came down to it, we didn’t get enough money.

“The initial indications were extremely strong that we would have success, but in reality when we closed the share offer the interest wasn’t there.

“A couple of big businesses had expressed an interest, but when it came down to it we were left very short. We took a vote as a committee to say we would move on.”

Mr Wilson insists that while the campaign to save the pub was unsuccessful, there has been an unexpected benefit.

“We had somewhere in the region of £70,000 pledged by villagers,” he said. “It was a tremendous response.

“This campaign has reunited the community: we have held events in the hall which have been really popular. It has brought us back together, and rekindled the spirit of community.”

Mr Wilson added: “Everybody is talking to each other and talking about it: that is what we can take away from this.”

The committee is now in the process of posting back cheques and returning funds.

“We just hope that whoever buys it now will see we registered it as a community asset, and retains it as a pub,” Mr Wilson said.

The pub has been up for sale on and off over the past two years, and the last asking price was £275,000.

It has been marketed for potential conversion into a home.

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