Middle Barton residents make final push to save Grade II-listed 18th-century village pub
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After years of campaigning and fundraising, the village residents’ have until the end of this December to make a bid for the Fox Inn.
A number of the villagers set up the Protect Our Fox community interest company in 2021 with the goal of buying and running the pub as a community.
In June of this year, Stonegate, the owner of the historic pub, put it on the market for £495,900, and it has remained closed since then.
The campaign to save the pub has now collected pledges for over £123k and has recently gained support from local celebrity, former EastEnders actor Tamzin Outhwaite.
Richard Brown, MBE, is leading the Protect Our Fox campaign and putting plans into place for it to become a hub for the local community once purchased. He said: “We launched a survey and used the results to set out a vision for an accessible, welcoming space at the heart of our community.
“At the same time, we commissioned a structural survey, which told us that the building is in good shape, and a commercial feasibility study, which confirmed that the Fox can, as a free house under community ownership, be a profitable business.
“We joined the Plunkett Foundation, who have helped many communities save their pubs, and set up The Bartons Community Benefit Society Ltd.”
The villagers are offering for members of the public to buy community shares of the pub and have set up a fundraising page on Crowdfunder.co.uk with the aim of raising £520,000. They are currently looking for investments of between £100 and £100,000 from now until Christmas.
The Bartons Community Benefit Society treasurer, Sue West, said: “We have been overwhelmed by the very strong community support we have seen so far. We have collected pledges of £123k, with many more people interested in investing. People have given many hours of their time and expertise, helping to put our business plan and marketing strategy together.
“Once we have secured the pub, we will recruit a tenant who shares our vision to run the business on our behalf. Our business plan sets out how we intend to pay interest on investments and reinvest any surplus in our exciting plans to transform the Fox into much more than a pub.”
Jill Kavanagh, Society Secretary, explains the opportunity: “Owning community shares is not without risk. You may get interest on your investment, but the real return is the knowledge that your investment is working hard for the good of the community every single day.
“We already have a large number of pledges, so we are expecting these shares to move quickly. It isn’t every day people have a chance to buy a share in a 300-year-old Oxfordshire pub and have a say in how it is run.”
For more information, including how to buy shares and read the share offer document, society rules, and business plan, visit https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/save-our-fox