The 'Salvation Squad'
In June 2016, Enterprise Inns put The New Inn up for sale and the doors of the pub closed on 22 July 2016. Immediate action was taken by Rob Brook, a local resident, and a month after it went on the market, a highly skilled village team dubbed the 'Salvation Squad' was formed.
Responsibilities were divided and the team set to work on saving their beloved local. A community survey was sent to every resident, to gain feedback on what facilities and activities should be offered if the pub was saved. With essential feedback showing the village would fully support a pub/restaurant/cafe and shop in equal measure, a business plan was produced and legal structure created (Norton Lindsey Community Pub Limited).
The group approached the Plunkett Foundation, Key Fund and Pub is the Hub for guidance and support. They applied to the More Than a Pub programme and were awarded a £2,500 bursary which paid for the structural survey, registration as a Community Benefit Society and model rules and membership of the Plunkett Foundation.
Norton Lindsey Parish Council donated £500 towards the final 'fighting fund' with an additional loan facility of £2,000 should it be required. The Community share issues campaign was successful and £324,000 came from 226 community shareholders.
Under the More Than a Pub programme, Key Fund provided a loan of £50,000 and a grant of £50,000 was also awarded to help secure the acquisition at the very last minute. "The Key Fund did a great job in responding to our tight timescales. When push came to shove and we really needed the support, they pulled it our of the bag. The loan and grant package enabled us to get off on the right foot" Rob Brook, Chairman
"We all have a shared goal now; to make the pub a success for years to come. Any profits the pub makes can be reinvested to further improve the premises or be used to benefit other community facilities such as the village hall and playground. This project is already bringing about greater community cohesion."
Rob Brook, Chair of Norton Lindsey Community Pub Limited
In addition to its role as a village pub, The New Inn has a café and there are plans to open a local shop (linked to a nearby village store) in Summer 2018. The pub also intends to offer a number of other facilities to local residents, the wider rural community and visitors of all ages.
The village has a number of elderly people and poor public transport so the creation of a local shop means those residents will be able to buy essential everyday items locally. Other services will be available in due course - for example: a parcel drop off facility and a laundry & dry cleaning service. In the future, the shop may also be able to offer customers a range of home-made take-away meals.
Being 'More Than A Pub'
Over time, the café is going to work towards the development of friendship circles, extending the service provided outside of the pub's traditional hours. It will offer a wide range of drinks, food and activities that will encourage even more social interaction. This will ensure the reach of the current customer base is extended to include; parents with babies/small children, parents collecting their children and older residents.
Library facilities have been created for both adults and children, with a 'take-one-leave-one' book exchange. The pub specialises in catering for families and a large team of volunteers have worked hard to create a fence off 'enchanted' garden for the children. It has a living willow tunnel, a safe and child-friendly surface to encourage play, bark paths and a number of small tables and chairs made out of logs. In the Summer, there are also plans to hold storytelling sessions.