More than 200 express interest in Hawes garage shares

Cars queue at Dale Head Garage.

Approximately 240 people have expressed an interest in buying shares in a community benefit society to buy Dale Head Garage in Hawes.

Originally the directors of the Upper Dales Community Partnership (UDCP) had hoped 80 to 100 people would support a community buy-out with the rest of the funding (up to 50 per cent) coming from grants.

At two meetings at Hawes Market Hall last week David Colley, one of the eight directors of UDCP, told those interested in investing that they had until July to set up a Community Benefit Society to buy the garage from the pension fund which owns it and, at present, leases it to the partnership.

He said that if there were sufficient investors, UDCP would appoint two of its members to set up the new company.

Once the investments had been paid in the shareholders would need to form the board of the new company, buy the garage and lease it for ten years to the UDCP which would then be responsible for its safety and security

“We will assist by setting up the company, helping you form a board and then the UDCP directors will step aside,” Mr Colley said.

He added that the directors of UDCP would buy shares as would the pension fund trustees as they all wished to support the community effort.

“We are trying to keep it as a community organisation and we are trying to keep it local,” Mr Colley emphasised.

He told the meeting that it was planned that the majority of the shareholders would invest £1,000 each and would live mainly in Upper and Mid Wensleydale, Upper Swaledale and Garsdale.

At one of the meetings he was asked if a larger number of investors would affect the plan to give shareholders approximately four per cent on their investment each year and a discount of 4p per litre on the pump price for reasonable sales of fuel on specified vehicles.

He replied that, to retain that model, there is a limit to the number of investors that it could support.

And that the UDCP will continue to apply for grants which would be used for any necessary purchase funds, maintenance work and installing three to four more electric charging points (there are already two).

“We are committed to participate in the conversion from fossil fuels to green energy,” he said.

It was reported that the cost of buying the garage from Minerva SIPP is expected to be £360,000 plus in the region of £10,000 to cover fees.

Mr Colley explained that UDCP was being supported by a charitable organisation called the Plunkett Foundation which specialises in helping community projects such as post offices and community shops.

The Hawes venture would probably be the first community garage in England, he added.

He said that if the garage was sold on the open market and UDCP no longer leased it there would be a considerable negative impact upon the community ventures it subsidises from the profits such as the Little White Bus, and the Post Office and library at Hawes.

“We are trying to do something tremendously important for this community and the Dale,” he said.