Helping communities to set up and run co-operative pubs is key to saving rural pubs in Cumbria. This was the message from Rory at an event at the Old Crown co-operative pub in Hesket Newmarket on Saturday 2nd July, where the local MP met with publicans, community members, councillors and representatives of the Plunkett Foundation to discuss the issues facing rural pubs today.
Rory, speaking at the event, said: “Pubs are vital to rural communities; they are real community hubs – places where people can meet and interact. They really do provide the lifeblood of our rural towns and villages, and worryingly increasing numbers of communities across Cumbria are faced with losing their local pub. This event not only showed that existing co-operative pubs in Cumbria like the Old Crown and the Fox and Hounds at Ennerdale Bridge are incredibly successful, but that there is real demand within rural communities in Cumbria for help to set up co-operative pubs. The Butcher’s Arms in Crosby Ravensworth has successfully organised a community buy-out, with the help of those who have already done it. This exchange of information is vital. It’s important to let communities know that there is legitimacy and leverage in a local group owning and running their local pub. I wholeheartedly support any community wishing to do this.”
The event was organised by the Plunkett Foundation, an organisation that helps rural communities set up community-owned enterprises. Peter Couchman, Chief Executive of the Plunkett Foundation, said: “This event, held on International Co-operatives Day demonstrated that not only can communities forming co-operatives save local pubs, it can also be applied to a range of other challenges like saving village shops, broadband access and developing renewable energy. The Old Crown, the original co-operative pub was the perfect place to get discussions started and we look forward to seeing more communities set up co-operative pubs in the near future.”
Any community who would like to know more about setting up a co-operative can contact the Plunkett Foundation on 01993 810730 and [email protected] and it can provide help and advice and help find a specialist advisor in your local area.