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Group bidding to save pub preparing ‘good offer’ backed by community

PUBLISHED: 17:59 18 October 2020 | UPDATED: 10:55 19 October 2020

The Locks pub in Geldeston, and East Suffolk Councillor Graham Elliott, who is leading a community bid to buy the pub at auction. Picture: Victoria Pertusa/Brittany Woodman

The Locks pub in Geldeston, and East Suffolk Councillor Graham Elliott, who is leading a community bid to buy the pub at auction. Picture: Victoria Pertusa/Brittany Woodman

Archant

A community group bidding to buy a much-loved pub at auction are confident they can bring it back to its best.

The Geldeston Locks pub. PHOTO: Nick ButcherThe Geldeston Locks pub. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Leading the community charge to buy the Locks Inn, in Geldeston, Graham Elliott said the group had the money and members in place to make a “good offer” and run the pub successfully.

The pub, on the Norfolk-Suffolk border, underwent a major refurbishment 18 months ago, but will now go under the hammer on Wednesday, with a guide price of £395,000.

Mr Elliott, who represents Beccles and Worlingham on East Suffolk Council, said: “We have sufficient bridging finance in place to make a good offer and we have sufficient pledges of long-term investment to be confident of repaying the bridging finance in a short period of time.

“We have set up a limited company to purchase the pub and will convert this to a Community Benefit Society (CBS) immediately after securing the pub at auction.

Graham Elliott. Picture: Archant library.Graham Elliott. Picture: Archant library.

“The CBS will then do a Community Share issue with the expectation of having hundreds of investors.

“We know this is a very difficult pub to run with massive crowds at events in the summer that are a challenge to cope with, and regular flooding that forces the pub to close at short notice.

“But in community ownership we will have a very large team that can help overcome all the problems.”

Concerns had been raised for the future of the pub, with the auction listing stating the site has “potential for other uses”, subject to planning approval from local authorities.

Mr Elliott, who said the pub could be the “best in the world” when announcing the plans last month, said: “We are concerned the pub is being advertised as a ‘going concern’, yet understand there are major drainage issues that need to be addressed.

“We are also concerned the sales details do not say that the Broads Authority has very explicit planning policies that would make it very difficult to get a ‘change of use’ for the pub.

“And the sales details do not inform potential purchasers that there is a pending Asset of Community Value (ACV) application on the pub and if or when this is approved by South Norfolk Council it will make a ‘change of use’ almost impossible.”


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