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Your Questions Answered

What is a Community Benefit Society?

A community benefit society is run as a business for the benefit of the community, rather than just for members of the society. This means that it must have an overarching community purpose that reaches beyond its membership.

The money raised by this share offer, combined with other funding from grants and loans, will enable the Society to safeguard the Blue Bell. The Society will ensure the pub makes enough profit to be sustainable, but the main goal is to provide great services and play a vital role within our community.

How much money do you need to raise?

We need to raise a minimum of £180,000 through this share sale. This, together with grant and loan funding from the Plunkett Foundation and the Key Fund, will provide the £280,000 we need to buy, renovate and reopen The Blue Bell.

How have you arrived at the £280,000 figure?

It is based on our business plan and a full commercial survey we commissioned, paid for with a seed-fund grant by The Plunkett Foundation. We have also consulted widely with other community pubs and have had offers of help with some of the jobs – more are always welcome. 


The first phase is to enable us to open as a pub. Later, when the pub is trading and making money we will make improvements upstairs but at present we are concentrating on renovating the pub area, kitchen and outside space.

What happens if you don’t raise enough money?

If we do not reach our minimum target of £180,00, applicants will get their money back less any expenses incurred such as solicitors' fees and bank charges.

When can I buy shares?

The share offer period opens on 27th November 2020 and closes on 31st January 2021.

How much are the shares and who can buy them?

One share costs £50. The minimum investment is £50 per investor with a maximum of £30,000 per investor. All shareholders will become members of Stoke Ferry Community Enterprise Limited. Anyone over the age of 18 may buy shares.

How can I buy shares?

We are distributing share prospectuses and application forms to every house in Stoke Ferry, Wretton and Whittington, with the option to pay by cheque or bank transfer. The prospectus and application form are also available to download from our website.

Application forms can be returned in sealed envelope to the address on the form or via email

Shares can also be bought through the website. 

Will I get interest on my shares?

Under the Community Benefit Scheme Rules, no interest can be paid until after the third year and only then if the Management Committee decides that it is possible and wise to do so. We must be clear, though. This is not a money-making scheme, but an opportunity to support the community.

You should read the Share Prospectus for full details. 

Can I sell my shares?

Shares cannot be traded, but after the first three years, you should be able to withdraw your investment. Though this will be subject to certain limits.

You should read the Share Prospectus for full details.

Can I withdraw my investment?

Investments will be locked in for at least three years. After that time, investors should be able to withdraw their money, as long as the Management Committee decides that it does not put the business at risk. There will be an annual limit on the total value of share investment that can be withdrawn, which might limit how much an individual investor may withdraw.

You should read the Share Prospectus​ for full details.

Is my investment eligible for tax relief?

We are seeking assurance from HMRC about the applicability of tax relief to this share scheme. We will announce the outcome as soon as we have it. Everything is taking a little longer because of COVID 19 restrictions.

Why do you think The Blue Bell will succeed this time?

The Blue Bell will be a community-owned pub and run by and for the community and as such can be so much more than a pub. It has its roots in the community, listens to feedback closely, and is more likely to be well supported over the long-term.

No community-owned pub in the UK has ever closed, unlike the many commercially or privately owned pubs which nationally shut at a rate of more than two to three a week before the pandemic.

Who will run the pub?

The business plan allows for a competitive salary for a Manager and Chef from the beginning. Volunteers will help with service in the early days and to cover earlier opening times of the Café, at events, and with cleaning and gardening. Initially we would like volunteers to commit for just three months.

How will The Blue Bell work alongside other the village services?

The Blue Bell will support and complement other village facilities and services. Our business plan intends that the pub will be a benefit to all Stoke Ferry businesses and organisations by attracting further custom from across the village and surrounding areas.

Will the pub have wheelchair access?

Absolutely – and a hearing loop. The Management Committee are determined to ensure that The Blue Bell is a warm and welcoming place for everyone in Stoke Ferry and surrounding villages as well as visitors from far and wide.

How can I help?

There will be many ways people can get involved in this exciting project; through the renovation period and when it has re-opened.

The most important thing you can do now are to buy shares and help us spread the word.

Talk to your friends, family, neighbours and anyone else who might be interested in making an investment of any size to make this a reality.

How will you involve the community?

We are committed to making this a genuinely community-led project.

Our survey gathered responses from one-third of all households in Stoke Ferry. We have a growing mailing list and are using established online forums (e.g. Stoke Ferry Market Place) and our own website, Facebook and Twitter accounts to share information and get feedback. We are also securing a great deal of mainstream media coverage, raising awareness and support beyond Stoke Ferry.

What are my responsibilities as a shareholder and member of the Society?

Shareholders will be consulted closely and will be able to vote on key issues.

You will also be eligible to stand to join board needs to contain a balance of key skills and experience to be effective.

The skills that are needed on the board are broad.  We are currently especially keen to attract new members who have experience and skills in:

  • Legal/company secretarial

  • Building development/renovation

  • Building project management

At the first Annual General Meeting, in 2021, shareholders will vote to appoint the board.

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