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New business plan to save Little Thurlow pub

The Cock Little Thurlow.''Picture Mark Westley ANL-151222-211226009
The Cock Little Thurlow.''Picture Mark Westley ANL-151222-211226009

A community group behind efforts to save a 17th century village pub have adopted a new business plan in order to strengthen its bid.

The Thurlow Cock has been up for sale for more than a year, after the current owner decided to retire, and residents fear it could be sold to housing developers.

In an attempt to keep the pub, in The Street, Little Thurlow, a group of local volunteers are aiming to raise £400,000 to buy the freehold and reopen the business, which would then be owed and supported by the community.

The group had initially planned to use an Enterprise Initiative Scheme - which allows those buying shares in the pub, costing £250 each - to claim 30 per cent of their investment back through tax. But after learning changes under new European Law could make this problematic, it announced last week it would re-launch its bid using a non-profit model.

A website updating friends of The Cock said: “We are re-engaging with investors and the community over our new business plan.

“We aim to set up a community benefit society that allows members to withdraw funds (within reason and limits) and investors will still get a reasonable rate of interest on their investment.

“When we have the pub up and running we will be able to fund this through rent of the pub and hopefully have enough left to give small grants to worthwhile local causes that benefit the village.”

The pub, which closed last month, was designated an Asset of Community Value in July. This gave the community the option to bid for the building before it is sold, however this right elapsed at the end of February.

Undeterred the group is still imploring people to buy shares in the bid and is exploring using crowdfunding.

“We’d be really interested in how people feel about this or if they have seen it work before,” the group said.

It added that if the new business plan proves successful the group would put tight guidelines in place to safeguard the pub’s future.

“An asset lock would be imposed on the pub so that should the benefit society close, the pub can only be sold to a likeminded company - effectively protecting the pub as a pub for ever more,” the group said.

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