Chippenham Village Website

Tharp Arms

In February it became known that Mark and Ali, who had run the pub for 8 years were ending their tenancy at the end of April. In this difficult market, it was not certain that another suitable tenant would be found.

Therefore a meeting of concerned villagers took place on the 12th in the Pub. About thirty people turned up and the chairman of the PC, James Broad, guided us through a complex discussion. At the end of which a steering committee was established to look into the possibility of a community tenancy, to ensure that the pub stayed open. An amount of about £30,000 would need to be raised to invest in this option.

The Steering committee started to prepare a questionnaire, aimed at identifying possible investors, volunteers and supporters. It also aimed to establish the importance of the pub to villagers and what other services they thought a new management could deliver.

By March it was clear that Greene King had decided to sell the pub, and subsequently Ali agreed to stay on as a manager until July. The steering committee however continued with its survey, and presented the results to a village meeting in the Hall on 26th April, to which about twenty people turned up.

James Hurst explained that the pub, land and outbuildings were being offered for sale with a guide price of £285,000 plus vat. This did not include the field at the centre of the village behind the pub. A buyer would thus need about £400,000 in cash, including working capital.

Cathy Brown and Mark Connelly presented the findings from the survey that they had designed and summarised. There were 80 responses, 27 of whom indicated that they would be prepared to invest some money in a community scheme. Most of the responses showed people prepared to volunteer in some way. Only two responses said that they did not care if the pub closed. Some good ideas for new services were also identified.

Keith Lomas chaired a discussion with everyone involved to identify next steps if any. In a nutshell, the sum of £400,000 to buy the pub is a serious investment compared with the tenancy sum of £30,000. The meeting identified that no one present wanted to establish a community pub company to find the £400,000, and most importantly manage or appoint a manager to run it. Some attendees stated that they would be willing to support a ‘lead investor’ if one comes forward. Generally the asking price is felt to be too high, and people wanted to wait and see what happens.

The steering committee will pass on the survey to the new owner, and publish the results on the village website.

I would like to thank all of the above, who gave a lot of time out of their busy lives to conduct the survey (attached).

James Hurst 4/5/13

Survey

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