UPDATE 8th June 2021
We are very close indeed to being able to buy the pub. It has taken longer to get to this point than anyone would have expected. This is partly the impact of the pandemic on fundraising. But it also reflects the lack of cooperation from the sellers who have not been able to provide the information that all sensible buyers need. That is all the more vital as we are using money entrusted to us by investors and the More Than a Pub Scheme.
You will remember that we had to do a lot of work in February and March when the pub flooded because the mains water supply had been left on through a cold winter. That put back our timetable and has increased costs too. But we have overcome that challenge. The next problem was the lack of information about the location and condition of the septic tank. Our research found that it is on part of the land that the sellers are retaining. So our solicitor has had to take steps to ensure that we will have access to it at all times.
Once the sellers agree to the access arrangements, we will be able to set dates for exchange of contracts and the completion of the purchase. There is no reason we can see that they should not happen very quickly now.
The sellers have today put the property back on the market (while still undertaking to sell to us if we can proceed ahead of another buyer). This seems rather like their attempt to sell the property at auction in the autumn. As we are practically ready to buy the pub, we are not overly concerned by this development.
Thank you for your support. We are very nearly there thanks to you and we hope to share good news very soon.
UPDATE 16th March 2021
We are close to buying the pub, but are having to deal with the consequences of a flood of the building following the recent cold snap. We are working to get an accurate assessment of the impact on the cost and timing of renovations so that we can complete the purchase with confidence.
In the meantime, it would be really helpful to know of anyone who could provide volunteer help with the renovation in any way so that we can keep the costs down. If you know of any building materials suppliers who might donate materials, that would be immensely helpful too. And of course, if there are any businesses or individuals that might be able to buy shares or provide grants or loans to help with this additional cost, we would be very interested to talk to them.
The Blue Bell will Ring Again
You have made this happen
By 14th February, when the share offer closed, nearly 400 Community Heroes had invested in the future of the Blue Bell as a pub and so much more. Thank you so much for your support.
The Blue Bell campaign has truly been an effort by the whole community. So many people have invested, have stood up to object to applications for the pub to be converted to residential use, have offered their help to renovate the premises, to transform the gardens, and to help run it.
Once the community owns the pub again, there will be much more to do. But everyone should be proud of what has been achieved in just one year and in the face of the challenges from the pandemic.
The share offer raised an amazing £115,000. We have been putting the finishing touches to the funding for the project, thanks to some zero-interest loans from generous locals, and pledges of help and materials from key tradespeople that reduce the costs of the project.
We are also seeking a grant from Stoke Ferry Parish Council, which has been made available by the government to help communities rebuild following the effects of Covid.
If you live in Stoke Ferry you can have your say on that proposal in our online survey. Please respond by 27th February.
The final funding model
The final funding model has been accepted by the ‘More Than a Pub’ scheme funders, namely the Plunkett Foundation and Key Fund.
It is made up as follows:
Community shares £115,000
More Than a Pub Grant £50,000
More Than a Pub Loan £50,000
Community Loans £40,000
In-kind support £15,000
Parish Council Grant £10,000
Legal work on the purchase began back in December, in the expectation that the funding target would be reached. A full structural survey was carried out, a solicitor was instructed, and searches have been commissioned. We are keen to complete the purchase as quickly as we possibly can. We will keep you updated on progress.
We are delighted that our campaign team has grown. There is great expertise amongst our new recruits helping us to move into the next phase of project-managing the renovation and refurbishment, reaching out to local businesses for support, and developing our wider communications across media, social media and with all our supporters.
We are continuing with our fundraising efforts including seeking additional grants for specific aspects, for example, installing disabled facilities. We want to be in a position where we can repay loans as quickly as possible. Future share launches remain another option.
Our plan for The Blue Bell
A living room in Stoke Ferry with a warm
welcome for locals and visitors alike
Quality bar food, snacks, coffees/teas, cakes to have in or take away
Imaginative and appealing vegetarian/vegan dishes
Locally sourced foods and use of organic ingredients where possible
Local beers, spirits and coffee
All-day café service
A parcel depot and prescription pick-up service
‘Café for Carers’; respite for carers to come together for mutual support
The reborn Blue Bell will be a traditional, stylish, comfortable, welcoming, family friendly village local with all the modern extras:
A hub for clubs, retirees, and other social groups
A regular Citizens’ Café where people can listen to and debate topics of interest e.g. local history, development of the village, Black History Month, Pride
A history archive of images, documents & artefacts relating for Stoke Ferry and the surrounding villages
Use of recycled/up-cycled materials and purchases through Stoke Ferry Market Place and local web sites, thus keeping money within the local economy
Using local tradespeople and suppliers wherever possible