Frequently Asked Questions about The Mortimer Community Benefit Society
The following information reflects the most commonly asked questions regarding the community purchase of The Bell Inn and has been arranged in a number of key themes. The statements will be reviewed at each formal Management Committee meeting and revised as necessary as the project to reopen the Bell progresses.
How did you select a suitable tenant?
Multiple media outlets and job adverts in trade publications were used to publicise our search for tenants. We filtered out, at the earliest stage, candidates whose ambition or knowledge falls short of what is necessary to achieve a sustainable turnover. We also filtered out candidates who lacked the incoming capital which is vital for setup and cashflow, and in particular we looked to identify candidates whose own vision for The Bell most closely aligns with the vision of the MCBS. That vision can be found here Vision Brochure and Vision Document. Candidates were required to present a formal business plan showing financial forecasts and describing how they would run the pub and interact with the community. Informal and formal interviews were held and responding to feedback at the last A.M.M. candidates were also required to show examples of their culinary skills.
The committee of the Mortimer Community Benefit Society were impressed by the knowledge, friendliness, enthusiasm and ideas presented by the successful candidates. They demonstrated a flexible, sustainable and collaborative approach to this partnership and to working with the community.
How does the Society intend to repay the short-term loans used to buy the pub and secure additional funding going forward?
We accepted some 100K in short term loans at 0% interest which assisted us in buying the pub when combined with the circa £232k provided by share capital.
The repayment of the short-term loans and securing additional investment to develop the pub is being supported by a combination of the following:
• Increasing Share Capital
• Securing a commercial loan
• Securing additional grants or loans.
• Approaching the Parish Council for additional loans and grants.
When will the pub re-open?
Six o'clock next Monday would be a good answer. Unfortunately it lacks one essential element - the truth - and that is largely thanks to the virus. As the committee contacted the successful applicants one morning back in March, to tell them the good news that they were to be the new tenants, the government announced, that same afternoon, that pubs, bars and restaurants would have to close for the foreseeable future. And at the time of writing it looks like they will be last businesses in line for permission to re-open for trade. Because the new tenants need a few weeks to arrange things including kitchen equipment, supplies, staff and so on, all of which can only begin to happen when the contract is signed, which can only happen when lockdown ends, you can see that putting a firm date on opening would be little more than a guess at the moment. 'As soon as possible' has the advantage of being true, although not much help if you're dying for a pint. Sorry. But we will let you know when 'as soon as possible' is - as soon as possible.
What work is being carried out at the pub?
A comprehensive list of works is constantly being carried-out, including...
• Essential regulatory work such as gas, electrics, heating, sanitation, licensing requirements etc
• Essential repairs and upgrades to the interior and exterior of the pub
• Improvements in the heating and insulation
• Making improvements to the tenants accommodation
• Replacing the cold store
• Maintenance of the gardens, exteriors fencing and outbuildings etc.
Initially around £28k was spent on refurbishing the pub. There is now a rolling five year maintenance plan, tasks are undertaken by volunteers or by professionals as funds become available.
What are the plans for the garden?
The gardens have been replanted and are maintained by a community garden group which allows many of the experienced and non-experienced gardeners in the village to be involved. Work is still needed on the hedges and fencing at the rear.
How will you keep us up to date?
We will schedule further public meetings as and when it becomes necessary, provide regular updates via email and display posters around the parish. We will also provide updates in The Parishioner and on the Mortimer CBS website.
All members of the committee can be contacted personally to discuss any issues that arise.
We will ensure that the shareholders and the wider community are fully consulted before any major decisions are taken regarding any changes to the use of the pub or the adjacent land.
Some developments in the future may need to be formally put forward to the shareholders for consideration and a vote as to how to proceed. The Mortimer CBS Model Rules which are available on the website will explain this more fully and in all likelihood these decisions will need to be made as part of an Annual Members Meeting (A.M.M.)
How might the site be developed in the future?
In our first Business Plan and in our Shareholder Prospectus, we discussed the potential development of the land at the back of the pub. There are no long terms plans to develop the site as yet and the community and shareholders will be fully consulted before anything is taken forward.
In the short term we are considering using the land behind the pub to provide some space for some form of overnight camping facilities, motor home facilities or perhaps some holiday huts or yurts. This could provide an important income stream for the pub, as well as Yarpole Shop and café, whilst we consider any longer-term development plans.
How will the pub be marketed?
We will support the new tenants to ensure that the ‘The Bell at Yarpole’, is fully marketed via a website and social media, as well as traditional methods such as banners and signage. The tenants will operate the new website, the domain of which is owned by The Mortimer CBS.
We will continue to engage with the local media and both local and national TV to ensure that the ongoing opening and development of the pub is widely publicised.
Share purchase and Business Plan
How much do the shares cost?
Shares are sold at a value of £50 each, with a minimum investment of 5 shares with a value of £250. Additional shares may be bought in increments of £50 up to a maximum holding of £10,000
How is the money I invest in shares protected?
The Society is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which has strict rules to protect your investment.
Could I lose money buying shares in The Bell?
It's extremely unlikely that you would lose money; however there is a very small element of risk involved as outlined in our Share Prospectus.
Will I receive any interest on the shares?
Yes, but maybe not for a couple of years - the target we have for interest payable is 3% but that depends on how well the pub does.
What happens if the pub business fails?
In that event, the pub and land would be sold with money returned to shareholder members. Any monetary gain would be kept for use by the community by The Mortimer CBS. No individuals will benefit personally.
Can I make a donation without being a shareholder?
Yes; any money donated will be used exclusively to make this project happen; nobody is being paid to run the Society.
How are the members of the Management Committee selected?
The existing management committee were elected by the members at the last Annual Members Meeting or they have been co-opted onto the committee as required. The next A.M.M. will be held (if allowed) in September.
The process allows both the existing committee members and other shareholders to stand for up to 12 places on the committee and to be elected through a transparent process. The rules governing this process are all laid out in the Model Rules for a Community Benefit Society and are available on the CBS website.
Does having more shares mean more influence on how the pub is run?
No, all shareholders have absolute parity - one member, one vote.
If you have any questions you would like answered, please email email@example.com or speak to a member of the Management Committee.
Contact details are on the Contact Us section of the website.
Updated - May 2020