General election blow for community pub purchase plans

The Farmers Arms, Muker

The community purchase of the Farmers Arms in Muker has suffered a setback due to the timing of a general election.

The calling of the general election means no decision will be made on a grant application to the the Government’s community ownership fund until after July 4.

And a change in Government could mean the fund is scrapped altogether.

The blow comes despite the Muker parish community raising £342,000 towards the purchase through a successful community share offer.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, chairman of the Muker Community Benefit Society, said: “To raise the full amount needed to buy the Farmers Arms the society applied for a grant from the Government’s community ownership fund in April, with a decision expected towards the end of May.

“However, due to restrictions as to what the Government is allowed to do during a general election period, rather than receiving a decision we instead received the message, ‘there will be no further community ownership fund announcements at this time’ ”.

With no guarantees about what might happen after the general election, the society is now investigating alternative ways to raise the remaining funds, which could come from donations, loans, or a further community share offer.

Mike added: “Despite the set-back, after receiving over 470 applications for shares, some from as far afield as South Africa, Canada, New Zealand and the USA, we’re very much buoyed up by the tremendous support we’ve received.

“Throughout the process, the importance of the Farmers Arms to the community has become more and more apparent and we fully intend to find ways of raising the remaining funds to secure the pub for the community.”

If you’re interested in supporting the community purchase of the Farmers Arms please contact mukercommunitypub@gmail.com