Villages set up co-operatives to keep vital services alive
In 2006 the local village Post Office of Llanmadoc, 16 miles from Swansea, was threatened with closure like so many small establishments of the time. The 250 inhabitants of Llanmadoc fought to keep it open but they were unable to save it.
Undaunted, the community rallied round and opened their own community shop and Post Office in January 2007. For the past three years Llanmadoc Community Shop (right) has been run by volunteers and is the hub of village life. The shop sells almost anything you might need, and a lot of it is locally produced. From fresh bread, ice cream, jams and chutneys, cheeses, fruit and veg and even a bakery and cafe to refresh those who visit the pictuesque location.
The shop is the centre of the village and a source of local information for much of the activities going on in this lively community.
In North Wales, the community of Llan Ffestiniog reached their first milestone in January this year, in their efforts to buy the very last pub in their village.
Llan Ffestiniog once had four thriving pubs but over the years these dwindled to one – the Pengwern Arms (below), which called its last orders in February 2009.
A committee was set up in March, with Mel Goch ap Meirion as chairman, to devise a way in which they could re-open the pub.
The group managed to negotiate a price with the pub’s owners but also needed to raise enough capital to start running the pub once again. In January this year, their target of £25,000 was reached and the Pengwern Arms re-opened.
Their website states “The main target is for the community to buy the Pengwern and re-open the bar, restaurant and hotel. The Pengwern will belong to the community, and the community will run it democratically and therefore it is the community who will benefit from the venture.”
So far 150 people have bought shares in the pub to raise the initial deposit. The group are looking for more shareholders, members to join ‘friends of the Pengwern’ and will be putting in applications for grants from public and charitable awarding bodies. The pub will continue to be run by volunteers.
The group now needs to find the rest of the pub’s £185,000 price tag by the end of the year.
Britain’s first co-operatively-owned pub is the Old Crown Pub in Hesket Newmarket, Cumbria.
The Raven Inn in Llanarmon-yn-Ial, Denbighshire, has also been run co-operatively since August 2009.