What is the Mortimer Community Benefit Society?
The Bell Inn operated as a thriving pub at the heart of Yarpole for many years. It became clear, in 2018, that we were about to lose our village pub, as the last tenants left and Enterprise Inns put it up for sale. The thought of losing it, most likely to a developer, galvanised opinion, which turned into action as a group was formed to rescue it for the benefit of the community.
The pub perfectly complements the village’s other thriving grassroots projects, for example the flourishing shop and The Gallery café. However there are some things that only a pub can provide. The objective was to have a friendly, welcoming village pub with good food and drink and, since its founding, the search was on for the right tenants to run The Bell.
To breathe new life into such a project takes lots of energy, time and money. The first volunteer committee with help from CAMRA, Plunkett and others worked to create a business plan, and a share issue to raise the necessary money. After some incredibly tense moments The Bell was bought for the community.
Working together many volunteers spent thousands of hours working on every aspect of the building, renovating the outside, designing and renovating the inside, marketing, planning and more. This project could not have succeeded without all those incredible volunteers who offered their expertise, skills, knowledge, flair and time to bring it all together.
The current Management Committee oversees the ongoing project, ensuring that everything from finances to the fabric of the building are looked after on behalf of Shareholders. The pub reopened in August 2020 under new tenants Nick Reed and Dominic Brand but sadly despite their best efforts the combined challenges of coronavirus and severe hospitality staffing shortages forced them to cease trading at the end of October 2021. The Bell at Yarpole is now in need of new tenants with the aim of becoming a profitable, sustainable business and a great community asset.
In the interim it still needs funds to operate, given that long periods of neglect under previous owners left The Bell badly in need of repairs and renovation. There are bills to pay, loans to be repaid, and a schedule of works for the building’s upkeep, which remains the responsibility of the MCBS.
How can I join in?
We’re glad you asked.
Anyone can become a Member, simply by buying a minimum number of shares and the principle of one vote per shareholder ensures democratic accountability.
Becoming a Shareholder brings a stake in the pub’s, and by extension the community’s, future. Shareholders ultimately control the Society and its business, by voting on significant issues at meetings, and through the annual election of a Management Committee.
This is not the kind of shareholding that brings regular dividends, since it is not a profit-oriented business, and shares cannot normally be withdrawn or cashed in. Think of it as a long-term investment in the community’s future.
Your security will be the building and land (not the pub business) which will remain a community resource throughout. The MCBS is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority, and a statutory asset lock prevents the distribution of residual benefits to Shareholders, so assets cannot be appropriated for the private benefit of any member.
More information on how to join us is on the membership page of the website.