Regulars at an upper Calder Valley pub are toasting their success after raising an impressive £130,000 to buy their local.
Around 250 pub fans and people from the wider community bought shares in the Fox and Goose in Hebden Bridge and the steering committee hopes to complete the buy out by the start of winter.
Calder ward councillor Dave Young, who chairs the Fox Friends Steering Group and one of the founder directors of the society formed to buy the venue and turn it into West Yorkshire’s first co-operative pub, said: “Everyone connected with the campaign is absolutely delighted. Although we knew there was great strength of feeling for protecting the Fox itself and also our local heritage, the response has been beyond our wildest dreams.
“We’d like to thank everyone who has worked so hard to make this happen, our loyal supporters, the local community, the local media and co-operative organisations – who’ve all played an important part in helping us get this far.
“I hope those people who didn’t manage to buy their shares before the offer closed are not too disappointed – they can still play a major part in protecting the Fox for future generations by coming along and supporting what should soon be West Yorkshire’s first co-operative pub.
“After a brief celebration we’ve now got just a little bit more hard work to do over the next couple of months, to complete the formalities and secure the pub on behalf of the community.”
Coun Young said that members took a vote about whether they would like to have a tenant running the pub or a manager and the overwhelming feeling was to keep current manager Trevor Cobbs in place. It is intended that Trevor will make the day to day decisions working to the business plan laid out by the society.
The share offer was launched at the end of June, to run for six weeks – then as momentum gathered the organisers were inundated with requests for more time to invest and extended the share offer to August 12. But a second surge in applications took the total soaring past the finish line before the final deadline, and the offer was closed early. Figures released by the steering group show that 59 per cent of investors come from Hebden, Heptonstall, Old Town and Mytholmroyd, while 19 people from Todmorden have bought shares. The others come from across Calderdale and the rest of Yorkshire – but there are also funders from as far afield as London, Nottingham, Chesterfield, Stratford and Burton upon Trent. The majority of the pub’s current staff have also bought shares.
Unlike many of the pubs saved by communities across the UK, the Fox and Goose is still very much open for business, but it is under threat because of the deteriorating health of the landlady.
There are now more than 20 co-operative pubs in the UK and, so far, not one has had to close.