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Save the Saddlers Arms

on 3 February 2015 - 7:47pm

The following article appeared in the North Oxfordshire CAMRA newsletter. The full edition can be found by clicking here

It is hoped that the Saddler’s Arms in New Yatt – which lies just outside our Branch boundary – may be the latest community pub to open in Oxfordshire.

Where others have succeeded, a group of New Yatt residents seek to follow. They have set up a company, the Saddlers Arms Community Pub Ltd., allowing them to bid as a community group to buy the pub which has been the only pub in the village since the mid-19th Century.

Community pubs buck the national trend; while across the country licenced pubs are closing at an alarming rate, community-run pubs have gone from strength to strength with dozens now open.

After the owner applied for planning permission to convert it to residential in Jan 2014 – which West Oxfordshire District Council refused – Hailey Parish Council was prompted to seek registration of The Saddlers as an ‘Asset of Community Value’.  This meant that when it was put up for sale, for the first six months bids could only be accepted from the local community, and the community group made its bid just inside the six month moratorium period

Graham Knaggs, Chairman of Hailey Parish Council said: “I was delighted when the owner decided to put the pub up for sale last April as this gave New Yatt residents the opportunity to save the last pub in the village from permanent closure. I have been impressed by the groundswell of support and the speed with which the community has been able to organise and raise funds to make a bid. I hope that they are successful.”

Sarah de Buriatte of the group said: “It seemed a real shame for the village to lose its only pub.  When its gone, its gone. We organised public meetings in the spring and it was clear that if the pub could be run successfully, many locals would like to keep it. We hope our bid will allow us to turn it into a real village pub.  In the past it has been owned by distant landlords with tenants paying high rental. We will run it for the village with local interests at heart. Local ownership will allow people from New Yatt and the neighbouring areas to be the shareholders of the pub ’

The New Yatt community group is grateful for the support of the Woodstock-based Plunkett Foundation which advises people nationally on how to set up community owned enterprises like village shops and pubs.

Community ownership is a growing trend across the country and in many rural areas it has allowed village facilities to be rejuvenated.