Skeeby community pub purchase delayed by legal dispute

The Traveller's Rest in Skeeby.

The purchase by the community of Skeeby’s village pub has been delayed by a legal dispute between the owner and the district council.

However, residents remain hopeful they will be able to complete the purchase of the premises in the new year.

Skeeby Community Pub Society (SCPS) agreed on a purchase price with owner Jon Whitfield after more than 150 bought shares in the community venture to raise over £200 000 worth of shares.

Residents were given an update on the purchase at a meeting last week.

In a statement issued after the meeting, the society said: “Whilst SCPS continue to do all they can to persuade the current owner to complete the sale, they appear to be getting drawn into a dispute between him and Richmondshire District Council over a compensation claim regarding the asset of community value designation of the pub, and a separate planning application for another property in the village.

“That said, Mr Whitfield has confirmed very recently that his intentions are to complete the sale of the Travellers Rest as soon as possible, and hopefully the SCPS will take ownership early next year.

“Although the slow progress is frustrating, we should probably not be too surprised that, having taken 12 years to agree the sale, bringing it to completion has not been without its challenges.”

The meeting heard that fundraisers have continued as the sale progressed and discussions have taken place with professionals about the renovation work needed to reopen the pub.

Carol Wilkinson, chair of SCPS, told the meeting that the continued support of supporters and shareholders was crucial.

“In 13 years, they have never been this close to having this much-loved pub back.

“Shareholders should rest assured that whatever happens next, their money is safe. It is ring fenced and will not be used for anything except the purchase of the pub.

“All other costs have been and will continue to be met by donations and director contributions which is why they will continue to hold fundraisers and well promote the share offer.”

SCPS is aiming to raise a further £60 000 in share purchases.

Carol added: “Don’t forget up to 10 people in a syndicate can buy shares or would make an ideal Christmas present for that person that’s got everything.”

Mr Whitfield declined to comment about the compensation claim.