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Since Chequer Inn campaigners won the battle to save their much-loved historic village pub from development into a private house, a lot of work has taken place behind the scenes in preparation for a community-owned venture. Earlier this year, local developers announced their intention to sell The Chequer Inn, Ash after Dover District Council listed it as an Asset of Community Value. The ChequerMates steering group was subsequently formed, heading up a community group intending to bid on the property so it can be restored back to a thriving freehold pub.
To keep the profile at the forefront of villagers minds, a pub-themed night was held in Ash Village Hall last Friday, organised by volunteers who are passionate about re-opening the pub for the benefit of the community. Nearly 200 pints of local ale were sold, supplied by Gadds and Ripple Steam Brewery, and a delicious hog roast cooked by Pigs & Bread Catering was enjoyed. The night was overwhelmingly popular, with over 150 people taking part in the festivities – including a pub quiz and entertainment. The evening proved that there is a huge market for the return of the family friendly, restaurant and pub which closed it’s doors over two years ago. Along with a coffee morning held the week before, £725 was raised – this will be used towards campaign costs over the next few months.
One of the main aims of the evening was to announce the formation of The Chequer Inn Ash Society – a new Community Benefit Society which will get funding from grants, loans, donations and a community share offer for the ownership scheme. The group have been very busy over the last few months, and have now been lucky enough to receive a £2,500 bursary award from the The Plunkett Foundation’s More Than A Pub scheme – which is funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government and The Power to Change Trust – to help with professional advice and services to enable the Society to purchase the pub.
Since a guide price was issued by the owners’ solicitors earlier this year, the Society have been desperately trying to access the property to gauge the costs of renovation and to have an independent survey conducted. So far, all attempts at gaining access to the property have been unsuccessful.
The primary objective of the Society is to run The Chequer Inn for the benefit of the community. The more people who are able to pledge a donation or buy shares, and the wider the section of the community that is involved in the project, the greater the likelihood of success. Due to the paperwork associated with the financial bodies involved, the Society are not yet able to launch a formal share offer, so at present they are asking for pledges to help gauge the level of support. Tens of thousands have already been pledged and, once the goal is met, the Society will make a formal offer to the owner.
This is not just about buying a pub, it is about helping to sustain a community. Anyone who believes in village pubs and community ventures should show their support by pledging; invest in the future of the community and ensure that the community hub is run for the good of everyone.
For further information, and to get a pledge form, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone David or Jane on 01304 813010 for further information.