The Cross Keys Community Pub – Redgrave Suffolk

The Cross Keys, which had already been registered as an Asset of Community Value in October 2015 (ACV), was offered for sale to the community in April 2017 for £300,000.

Following an in depth survey, the community gave the group the green light on 22nd May 2017 to form the Redgrave Community Society Limited, the legal entity which would eventually make the purchase. Several months of hard work went on behind the scenes – seeking advice from various organisations including the Plunkett Foundation and Pub is the Hub, opening bank accounts, appointing solicitors, arranging surveys, drawing up a Business Plan and a Share Offer, researching the best form of community society for our needs and then registering it with the Financial Conduct Authority – and the list goes on!  It was also necessary to jump through a number of hoops to be in with a chance of being awarded a £50,000 loan coupled to a £50,000 grant through the More than A Pub initiative.  A Facebook group, ‘Don’t Lose The Keys’, was set up, and the Redgrave Community Society Limited website – both vital tools for keeping everyone up to date with progress.

Share brochures were delivered by willing volunteers to every household in Redgrave, Rickinghall, Botesdale and Hinderclay in August 2017, with the Share Offer originally running from 21st August – 30th September 2017. 

Towards the end of September, with the purchase of shares gaining momentum but having not quite reached the target figure of £200,000 (which would then unlock our access to the further £100,000 loan and grant following a strong and successful bid), the Share Offer was extended until just before the final purchase in November.

The owners had stated that if the community did not buy the pub, they would not put it on the open market, but would instead close this last pub in the village, board up the bar, and let the accommodation out separately.  They might also start the building of holiday chalets in the grounds, for which they already had planning permission.  Given the possibility of this grim outlook, a steering committee set to work to find out whether there was enough support in the village to look at realistically trying to purchase it as a community pub.

As an Asset of Community Value, the community would have just six months – until 25th October 2017 – in which to set to work and amass the necessary funds for the purchase. On 24th October 2017, the day before the ACV expired, the details of the sale were finally agreed with the vendors and the sale was completed on 24th November. These extra few weeks provided the time to achieve the £200,000 target. The ‘Pubometer’, placed on the Knoll for all to see, was regularly updated as the funds rolled in

The pub had been ailing for a number of years and, aware of the enormous benefits of a flourishing pub in the heart of any village, the local community agreed to try and raise the funds to purchase it as a valuable community asset for Redgrave.

The Redgrave Community Society Limited was set up as a community benefit society, a non-profit making society, which would be the legal entity through which the pub would be purchased.  Shares in the benefit society were offered at just fifty pounds each, the intention being to make them accessible to the whole community.  When it comes to voting, shareholders have just one vote per member no matter how many shares they hold: 200 shares or just one, they both get just one vote.

However, the ambitions of the society are broader reaching.  The purchase of the Cross Keys has been the first achievement of the society but, with the long term aim of ‘serving the community’, it will give consideration to the possible funding of other community initiatives in the future.