Residents raise cash to save award-winning pub from closing down in Milton Keynes

Residents are rallying round to raise almost half a million pounds to buy their village pub because it is such an asset to their community.

Thursday, 9th January 2020, 11:36 am
Updated Thursday, 9th January 2020, 11:37 am

The award-winning Bell and Bear in Emberton was closed suddenly eight months ago by managers Jonathan and Sophie Adriaenssens.

The apologetic couple blamed a “long standing fight” between themselves and a utility company, and said the building had become dilapidated and difficult to run and maintain.

The owners, the Wellington Pub Company, announced it would be selling the pub – prompting villagers to spring into action.

The Bell and Bear pub

They set up a Community Interest Group dedicated to halt the sale and raise £450,000 to put in a bid for the pub themselves..

So far they have raised more than £271,000 from investors. But they only have until February 13 to raise the remainder.

A spokesman for the group said: “The Bell and Bear had previously been registered as an Asset of Community Value. This means that as part of the Localism Act, the community can ‘stop-the-clock’ on the sale of the registered asset for six months giving the community time to raise funds, create a business plan and submit a bid of their own.”

Should the community be successful in its bid, they will still have the option of running the pub themselves, installing a tenant and taking rent, or employing a manager to run the operation with takings and profits coming back to the group.

The group says the pub is a community focal point, a place to meet, socialise, form friendships and build community spirit.

Jonathan and Sophie had won a string of awards there, including MK Chef of the Year, and had built a glowing reputation for fine dining and excellent beers and wine

“More pragmatically, at least for the residents of Emberton, house values have been shown to be seven to 10 per cent higher when there is a thriving pub in the village,” said the residents' spokesman.

The group is being advised by The Robin Hood in Clifton Reynes, a pub that went through a similar process and is now being successfully run by the village.

Their long term plan is for the Community Interest Company to agree a lease with an experienced tenant who shares the vision of the pub as a community focal point.

“We aim to re-establish the Bell and Bear pub to sit at the heart of our community, providing a warm and family-friendly welcome, offering good beer and good food to the local residents and the wider neighbourhood. It shall provide a focal point for teams, clubs, societies and the community as a whole, to encourage participation and reduce social isolation and loneliness. It would be used as a venue for village events such as New Year’s Eve, wedding, birthday and funeral parties,” said the spokesman.

More details of the campaign see the group's website here or visit their Facebook page called Save the Bell and Bear