More than £160,000 pledged towards Skeeby pub reopening

The Traveller's Rest in Skeeby.

A community group formed to reopen the Travellers Rest in Skeeby says more than £160,000 has been pledged towards the goal.

Members of the Skeeby Community Pub Society (SCPS) say they have made “significant progress”, with more than 100 investors coming forward since the appeal was launched in September.

The group said a number of pledges had come in from outside the area to boost the efforts of local residents.

The campaign has also been backed by local solar farm developer, Richie Bland Energy, which has made a charitable donation of £2,000 towards the upfront costs of the campaign.

The company has also pledged to invest in the appeal.

SCPS has been running an online survey to find out which services residents would like the reopened business to offer.

The group said respondents indicated they would like the pub to be a community hub — a place for social gathering, cultural activities and somewhere to meet people and exchange information.

The group said it was receiving support from Richmondshire District Council, which is offering grant funding support through their Community Improvements Fund and assisting in the group’s efforts to purchase the property.

Callum McKeon, corporate director, said: “It is clear from the recent engagement work undertaken by SCPS that there is considerable community support for this project and the district council is keen to see this local asset brought back into community use.

“We would like to see an agreement reached between SCPS and the owners of the property to allow this worthwhile community project to be delivered, and we will assist in any way that we can to make this happen.”

In an update to members the group has also announced chair Richard Wright has stood down.

He has handed over the role to existing committee member Carol Wilkinson.

She said: “I’d like to thank Richard for his huge contribution to SCPS.

“I know stepping down has been a difficult decision for him.

“However, it’s a decision that’s been made easier by the strength of the team that now exists to take us forward. I certainly couldn’t have been persuaded to take up the reins without the support of the board.

“It is a real credit to the whole team that he feels able to leave things in our care and ‘go fishing’.”

The society said it aimed to raise a total of £300,000 from members and grant funding to get the pub open.

The pub has been shut since 2008, with the owner’s attempts to seek planning permission to convert it into a house being rejected by planners.

The owner has put the building up for sale, however the £200,000 asking price has previously been considered as too high by residents.

A compulsory purchase order has been discussed in a bid to buy the property at a lower price, with a district valuer reportedly valuing the property at £110,000.

But owner Jon Whitfield said in January that he would take legal action if the district authority attempted to use these powers to buy the pub at what he claimed were below market rates.

It is understood the group is now hoping to avoid a CPO and would prefer to negotiate a sale with the owner.

The comments come after residents of the village last month relaunched a campaign to buy and reopen the pub.

Members are being asked to invest a minimum of £250 in the bid to reopen the pub.

A re-survey and valuation survey, commissioned by SCPS, has now been completed.

The group says information has been used to inform the new prospectus which is now available to download from the society’s website.

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