MORE steps have been taken in the bid to save The Britannia Inn for the community.
Councillor Theo Butt Philip, who is spearheading the campaign to reopen the pub on Bath Road, Wells, organised a public meeting in St Thomas’ Church Hall that was attended by more than 20 people.
He explained that Wells City Council had given its backing for the resubmission of the Asset of Community Value Order (ACVO) application.
This will have additional evidence of public support, including the petition that has been signed by more than 150 people at change.org/p/save-the-brit
If granted, the ACVO would give the community several months in which to set up a Community Interest Company and put together a bid to buy the pub, which is for sale at £350,000.
Cllr Butt Philip told the meeting that he estimated £500,000 or more might need to be raised to buy the pub, refurbish it, and allow for working capital, and that there had already been some offers of financial support. There are also schemes that can offer funding for such projects.
It was pointed out that The Hop Pole pub at Limpley Stoke, near Bath, had just been bought by the community thanks to a combination of community fundraising and the award of government funding.
One former customer of The Britannia at the meeting said that of 150 community pubs in the country, only one had failed. “That’s very encouraging,” he said, and added of The Britannia: “We’ll make sure it doesn’t fail.”
There was some discussion of uses for The Britannia other than simply as a pub, such as incorporating a shop like The George Inn at Croscombe does, or making it a drop-off point.
“It provides so much opportunity for so much,” said Cllr Butt Philip.
A steering group is being set up to take the community project forward, and there are likely to be more public meetings to discuss things in the future.