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End of year report to our supporters

December 2021

We know it may not feel like it, especially when looking at the White Lion looking so unkempt and deteriorating, but we have achieved a lot in 2021. But still we all wish that it was open at this particular time of the year so we could meet family, friends and colleagues in our ‘Local’.

I am sure we can remember past events at Christmas and New Year when The White Lion at Crays Pond was the backdrop to us all having a great time.

We started the year with the news that the ACV appeal by the owner was turned down by the Tribunal that sat as a final decision maker on the current ACV status granted by SODC.

During the lockdown period at the start of 2021 we continued to get together as a group by holding virtual meetings (No we did not need Jackie Weaver to arbitrate!), and we also kept in touch with SODC, GHPC and our MP. Obviously they also had other things on their plate at that time, but SODC gave us a grant to continue our work, and prepare for future initiatives

The supporters survey in March was a great success and very informative. This information has been relayed back to the supporters group and has been used in developing a Business Plan for our funding applications (see below). Next year we plan a full community survey to add data to our plans.

We also updated the website and added a ‘Pledge’ page and without any further marketing we have raised a massive £140000 in pledges. Thank you again to our supporters who gave an indication of the financial support they could provide.

In spring next year we plan a full community fundraising process linked to a prospectus and grant applications.

In April the owner announced that he was putting the Pub premises up for sale by advising SODC of his intention. Having already planned for this event the group formed a Community Interest Company and based on a previous valuation we had commissioned, we sent in an offer.

The Owner then, for whatever reason, announced he was not going to sell and although our offer remains on the table no negotiation has been forthcoming. No further initiative has been announced by the owner as to the Pubs future, and as a premises it continues to depreciate financially and deteriorate visibly.

Despite all the owners words in The Henley Standard no further announcements have been forthcoming.

As a group we are in contact with many similar groups up and down the UK and whilst some have been successful in purchasing and opening a community pub, many developer owners are also refusing to negotiate as a plan to get planning permission in the future, through a deterioration of the property, making then the argument that it is unviable to bring up to standard as a Pub.

With this in mind we have continued discussions with SODC about the premises future and have a bid prepared to send into the Community Ownership fund when our discussions with SODC are finalised.

In November the Community Group joined the Plunkett Foundation. Plunkett is an organisation dedicated to the promotion and support of community businesses, particularly Pubs. They are backing groups who are facing owners playing the ‘waiting game’ and have supported successful applications to the Community Ownership Fund. Their support will be invaluable to us in moving forward in spring next year as we plan to do.

The Project Group was also enlarged by people coming forward to participate, and we put out feelers for a member with a legal background. The Project Group now consists of Fiona, Bill, Doreen, Chris, John, Simon and Mark, and we are supported by Peter, our SODC councillor.

If you want to be more involved just send in an email.

As always we thank you all for your continued support. We know you desire the White Lion to reopen and our aim is to achieve that.

So a great festive period and happy new year to you all.

Roll on all the activity in 2022, so please keep up your support and watch the web site for announcements. The Crays Pond Community Group

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