Peak District community fails in bid to buy pub

Members of Bamford Community group outside the village pub, The Angler's RestMembers of Bamford Community group outside the village pub, The Angler's Rest
Members of Bamford Community group outside the village pub, The Angler's Rest
VILLAGERS who intended to buy an under-threat Peak District pub and turn it into a “community hub” with a Post Office have been left reeling after the pub company announced it would be selling not to them - but to a third-party developer.

People in Bamford, in the picturesque Hope Valley, rallied round to raise enough cash to buy the Anglers Rest after seeing the pub, owned by Admiral Taverns, pass through the hands of 10 landlords in the past 10 years.

The Bamford Community Society drew up a business plan to turn the pub into a community hub, housing a post office, cafe and accommodation.

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They registered it as an Asset of Community Value, meaning that they had six months to raise the cash to buy it.

They raised more than £187,000 - from 180 people - and also had £150,000 in agreed finance, meaning the society had sufficient funds to buy the pub.

They then instructed solicitors to begin the conveyancing, only to discover that Admiral Taverns had exchanged contracts to sell to a third party.

Jonathan Bury, member of the Bamford Community Society, said: “We are devastated. Admiral Taverns had agreed with us a price, and been kept informed about progress all along.

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“We have started the conveyancing process. We just don’t understand what more we could have done. Our village Post Office branch is also under threat and we would have saved it by relocating it into part of the pub.

“This move threatens the future of our village. If this sale goes ahead Bamford will lose its post office and along with all of the benefits of the multi-faceted business we intended to run.”

Under the Localism Act 2011, the Asset of Community Value scheme gives people the right to have six months during which they can bid to buy under-threat buildings of local importance.

Mr Bury added: “Whilst Admiral have acted within the letter of the law, the legislation was intended originally to give community groups a right to buy.

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“Unfortunately, it was changed to a right to bid, meaning that community groups are not protected from this sort of behaviour, even when they have used the Localism Act to register a community asset.

“This is not what the Government intended with this legislation and it is sad to see that it doesn’t offer the protection that community groups need.

“This will make other groups stop and think about whether it is even worth trying to save their local assets.”

The property and strategy director at Admiral Taverns, Andy Clifford, confirmed yesterday that the company had agreed to sell the pub to an unnamed individual who he stressed is committed to “working with the community of Bamford, to ensure the pub remains as a pub”.

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He added: “We understand there will be some concerns about the future status of the pub and possible implications brought about by a sale. To this end we have made arrangements for representatives of the local community to meet with the purchaser to ease any concerns about the pub’s future.

“There was interest from a local group representing the community in purchasing the pub and we understand the frustration that some people will now feel.

“We would like to make it clear that, for more than a year, we have engaged fully in discussions over a sale to this local group representing the community, and have given them the opportunity to buy the pub.

“We offered to exchange contracts on a sale of the Anglers Rest and to wait for up to 12 months to complete the transaction, which we felt was an accommodating and reasonable position, but the group decided not to proceed on this basis. “I would like to stress personally, and on behalf of the company, that the pub is not at risk.

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“It is afforded protection under its Asset of Community Value status and has an incoming owner who is fully committed to preserving the pub.

“We wish the licensee, the pub, and its customers the very best, and trust the community will feel suitably reassured that they will be able to continue to enjoy the Anglers Rest for the foreseeable future.”