Villagers could soon step in to save pubs and post offices from closure

PUBLISHED: 06:34 05 August 2012

Post Office, Little Downham

Post Office, Little Downham

Archant

NEW Government legislation coming into force in October will give community groups in East Cambridgeshire the right to take over the running of pubs, libraries or local shops that may otherwise be closed down.

The Community Right to Bid scheme was launched as a means for parish councils or local groups to club together and purchase buildings they believe are crucial to the survival of their town or village.

Some 1,300 pubs closed their doors in 2011, according to the British Beer and Pub Association, with figures disclosed to Parliament last year showing that more than 400 post offices branches have been closed in the last two years.

Littleport-based Cambridgeshire ACRE, which provides advice and support to rural communities, will be at the forefront of the scheme when it launches in the autumn.

Mike Barnes, community advisor for ACRE, said: “This legislation will give communities the right to bid on something that might otherwise be closed and that can be very important for the health of rural communities.

“People are starting to wake up and realise that they can act to stop things like shops and pubs from closing and we are trying to help them do this by providing support and advice through what can be a complicated process.”

In order to succeed, groups will need to convince East Cambridgeshire District Council to include their village shops or pubs on a community assets list so that, should the owner decided to sell, the community is given a fixed period of time to put together a bid to buy the property, saving it from being closed.

The legislation could help groups like the Ely Society, which is looking into the possibility of taking over the running of the city’s old magistrates’ court, which was sat empty since 2011 when it was closed by the Ministry of Justice.

To get in touch with Cambridgeshire ACRE phone 01353 860850 or visit the website www.cambsacre.org.uk.

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