Punters’ co-op vision for pub a step closer

Fox and Goose, Hebden Bridge, January 2012
Fox and Goose, Hebden Bridge, January 2012

PUB-GOERS’ plans to run their own local as a co-operative are a step closer to becoming reality.

A steering group has been set up to drive forward the takeover of the Fox and Goose in Heptonstall Road, Hebden Bridge.

Eight members were elected from the wider Fox Friends supporters’ group with Dave Young (Lab, Calder) in charge as chairman.

Coun Young said: “What this means is that the co-operative is no longer just a dream - it’s a very real and exciting opportunity.

“The Fox Friends believe this is a viable proposition to save this well-loved traditional local and retain it as a gathering point for the community.

“We will do everything in our power to make this work.”

The next step is for the group to investigate the practicalities of the buyout.

Practicalities such as surveys, finance and legalities need to be explored, then a business plan will be drawn up.

Coun Young said there was massive support for the idea, which would be only the eighth co-operative pub in the UK.

“If there is one place in the country where a co-operative pub is likely to succeed, it is Hebden Bridge, a town well-known for its strong community spirit.”

Julia Warren, licensee of the privately-owned, traditional real ale pub, is selling up due to ill health.

She said she would prefer it to go to a community group rather than a pub chain or developers.

More than 100 people attended a meeting at the pub in January to discuss a possible community takeover.

Close to £85,000 was pledged in principle by those who attended.

The plan also has the support of the Plunkett Foundation, which helps villages and towns take control of local assets such as shops, pubs and other businesses through community ownership.