We have not communicated with you for several weeks since we alerted you to the fact that Punch Taverns had opened negotiations with another potential purchaser after we were unable to raise sufficient funds through the Sidbury Community Enterprises share offer to purchase the Red Lion, refurbish it and to fund the required start-up costs.
The reason for saying nothing since then was that, whilst Punch Taverns has kept us abreast of the progress of the purchase negotiations with the other potential purchaser we were provided information on a strictly confidential basis. However, in light of the report of Tom Barrington’s successful purchase of the Red Lion in today’s Sidmouth Herald we feel that we can now address the issue.
Firstly, we offer Tom our congratulations in successfully purchasing the Red Lion and obviously we hope that it will go from strength to strength under his ownership. It is in the village’s interest that it has a popular village pub, which was the main objective of the Campaign. We understand that Tom may not be opening until later in the month.
This has therefore brought the activities of Save The Red Lion Campaign and Sidbury Community Enterprises to a conclusion almost 15 months from when it all began at the open meeting in the Red Lion’s skittle alley on 19 May last year. We believe that although the vision that Sidbury Community Enterprises launched for the pub cannot be realised through community share ownership, we are pleased to have managed to secure the use of the premises as a pub for at least 5 years.
Many people who live both locally and further afield have, over the past 15 months, supported the Campaign’s activities to retain the Red Lion. We could have found ourselves in a situation where the village pub closed permanently, rather than just as presently for the temporary period between Punch Taverns and Tom Barrington’s ownership. We are sure that Tom will recognise that through our efforts the purchase price was reduced by £100,000.
So there is much to celebrate. Our thanks also must go to Hugo Swire and Reverend Susie Williams for being the Campaign Patrons. Much thanks also go to DCC Clr Claire Wright for her personal unwavering support and her financial support from her DCC Locality Budget. We also received good financial support from the Keith Owen Fund. Both of these funding streams allowed the Campaign to thrive and we are very grateful to them.
We have received great support and much free publicity from the local press including from BBC Radio Devon, Express & Echo, Western Morning News, Pulmans View from Sidmouth and in particular the Sidmouth Herald. Our thanks go to all of them.
We received a significant grant from a government funded agency which allowed us to buy in assistance from expert advisers and we now need to reconcile what we have spent from the grant and to return the balance. We now need to withdraw our funding application for over £100,000 for a capital grant that would have made up the shortfall from the share offer.
Without the invaluable initial support of the Plunkett Foundation from the very start we would not have been able to construct a meaningful business plan which formed the basis of our share offer.
In the end the share offer raised £102,250 from 157 investors. This was raised over a period of just over 5 weeks! We think that was a great achievement and showed that the vision for a future Red Lion had significant support. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to allow Sidbury Community Enterprises to complete the purchase of the Red Lion. We were clear that £200,000 was the minimum that we needed to raise in order to deliver the vision and the basic refurbishment required.
Our thanks too must go to all of those who have served on the Steering Group, past and present. Between them they invested a great deal of time, energy and commitment to delivering the vision. Our job, along with them now is to settle outstanding bills associated with the 15 month campaign and to return all of the uncashed cheques to our investors. This we will do over the forthcoming weeks. Their faith in the project was incredible.
Finally, a big thank you to everyone who has in any way, big or small, contributed to or supported the project to retain the Red Lion as Sidbury’s village pub. And once again we wish Tom Barrington good luck and every success.