Farmers Arms: Muker community group offering more shares in iconic North Yorkshire pub

The community group trying to buy an iconic Swaledale pub that shut down has launched a share offer to help raise funds after uncertainty around government funding in the wake of the general election being called.

The Muker Community Benefit Society is the group of locals in Muker hoping to buy the Farmers Arms pub. They had previously raised £342,000 from selling shares in the pub to more than 460 shareholders, with the additional funding to provided by the Government’s Community Ownership Fund (COF).

However, since applying for the public funding, the decision on the group’s application has been held up indefinitely, with the Government stating “There will be no further Community Ownership Fund announcements at this time.”

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One supporter has provided a loan to the group to cover half of the expected government funding, meaning the new fundraising target for the community in Muker to be able to make an offer on the pub stands at £80,000.

The Farmers Arms in Muker, photographed by Tony Johnson for the Yorkshire Post.  10th May 2024The Farmers Arms in Muker, photographed by Tony Johnson for the Yorkshire Post.  10th May 2024
The Farmers Arms in Muker, photographed by Tony Johnson for the Yorkshire Post. 10th May 2024

Professor Sir Mike Richards, the Society’s chairman, says: “All the advice we’ve received says that we cannot rely on the COF being available after the general election and that it will be many months before any alternative scheme becomes available.

“Given the level of support and enthusiasm for the project, instead of giving up, the Society feels the best approach is to raise the funds ourselves”.

Ian Evan, the Society’s treasurer, adds: “Though the withdrawal of COF was an undoubted blow, raising the funds ourselves frees us from the obligations that come with a COF grant and if successful, will secure the funds much more quickly.

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“Though we realise just how generous the Farmers Arms community has already been, we hope that just a little more generosity and one last push will see us over the line”.

The Farmers Arms was listed as an Asset of Community Value in October 2022. The status provides local assets like pubs, shops, libraries and community centres a level of protection against development while community groups attempt to arrange their purchase.

The latest bidding round of the Community Ownership Fund is valued at £150m for communities to take ownership of local assets across the UK.

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