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Heart of the Community

 What do you do when you live in a small village and the landlord of your local pub wants to retire and close the pub? If you’re Bryan Layman of Wistow village you issue a call to action to the villagers.

This is exactly what happened in Wistow, a small community 6 miles north-east of Huntingdon, close to Warboys. Recently on “Over to You” the members of the Keep Wistow Flowing team told Norman Knapper what happened.

Bryan spotted a couple of guys doing a building survey of the pub and being a builder, he realised that the type of survey which was being carried out was not a usual one for a sale of property. After a conversation with the landlord it was understood that the pub was for sale and there was a potential commercial buyer in the wings.

From this point a steering group was formed in order to try to keep the pub in the village after a meeting of all the residents in the village which was extremely well attended and confirmed that everyone wanted to keep their pub. The next step was for the parish council to apply to the district council for an ACV (Asset of local Community Value) which if granted, would give the group a chance to gather together the money necessary to make an offer to buy the pub for the community to run. Pledges of finance forms were introduced in order to begin the process. It became clear that a business plan was going to be needed and thought given to the way forward which might involve the formation of a Community Benefit Society. Things moved very quickly and the ACV was granted by HDC on 2nd October.

The pub closed early in October but the residents now run their own “Pop up Pub” in the village hall each weekend. This is being really well attended. The steering committee now have until April to find enough funding in order to make a realistic offer of purchase to the current owners.

We wish Wistow well in quest to keep their own pub and run it as a hub of the community with much more than just the selling of alcohol.  To find out more about this remarkable story visit their website which is keepwistowflowing/pub or their facebook page.