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Campaign for Real Ale

White Lion, Aldershot - Community Campaign

Campaign to keep the White Lion in Aldershot as a pub goes from strength to strength

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October 2020

Although the White Lion, Aldershot remains closed the campaign to buy the pub on behalf of the local community continues. The campaign group has submitted an offer to buy the freehold of the pub for the asking price of £275,000. However this offer is conditional on being able to trade effectively and raise the necessary capital to purchase the pub.

As we all know Covid-19 means that all pubs are currently suffering greatly reduced levels of trade and for existing, successful pubs, just surviving is a victory. So whilst the Group is still working hard to purchase and run the White Lion, the challenging pub operating restrictions mean that they cannot produce a stable business plan as the operating constraints are currently too severe to predict future trading performance with any confidence.

Therefore it has been decided that now is not the right time to launch a share offer and seek to buy the White Lion. However, as soon as a a realistic prospect of trading restrictions being lifted to the extent that the White Lion can trade to its potential in the “new normal” then the share offer and purchase will proceed.

In the meantime there is a risk that the White Lion may be sold, but given planning protections it will still need to be operated as a pub and clearly the current challenges would apply equally to any prospective landlord.

Whilst now is not the time the Community Group are preparing to seize the opportunity when it is possible to do so. They continue to meet regularly and are currently seeking a volunteer to be the minute secretary for the Group and provide some basic administrative support. The role would only take a couple of hours a week and anyone interested is invited to email the Group at moc.liamg@tohsredlanoiletihwehtevas

Newsletter 5 - June 2020: White Lion Newsletter 5

Keep the White Lion Roaring! T-Shirts Now Available

The sun has been shining and it’s definitely T-shirt weather so get your ‘Keep the White Lion Roaring’ T-shirt now and wear yours with pride,

To order your T-shirt(s) send an email to moc.liamtoh@mattoc.ellehcor. The T-shirts come in all sizes from S to XXXL at £12 (black), £15 (other plain colours). Local deliveries free of charge or £3.50 for posting.

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Offer to buy the White Lion submitted

With the Asset of Community Value (ACV) designation for the pub expiring in 15th May the Aldershot Community Pub Group (ACPG) has formally advised the owner of the pub that they wish to buy the White Lion, once they have raised the necessary capital and had the opportunity to carry out the necessary inspections and surveys.

This will ensure ACPG continues to be recognised as a serious bidder, despite the ACV no longer being in place and that negotiations can continue once the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic becomes clearer.

£2,500 Bursary Awarded

A £2,500 bursary has been awarded to the campaign group to help with our start-up costs. This very welcome award has been provided under the “More than a Pub” programme which is funded by The Power to Change Trust as part of a wider initiative to grow the number of community pubs opening across the UK. Plunkett Foundation is the lead organisation delivering the programme. .It is a real boost to the campaign and shows that there is strong local support.

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White Lion on night of the first public Meeting
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Coronavirus Impact statement

Due to the Covid-19 Virus, in accordance with Government directive, the White Lion, together with all pubs, has been required to close for the foreseeable future. However, the Aldershot Community Pub Committee are still holding virtual meetings to ensure that saving the White Lion still continues to make progress.

Pledge

The Aldershot Community Pub Committee has agreed that shares will be offered in the pub at a minimum of £20 and that voting will be on the basis of one share one vote.

The Committee is also inviting potential investors to make a pledge in support of the pub. This is not a commitment to invest, but gives an indication of how much share capital might be raised and greatly helps with securing other funding.

As at 30 April 2020: 40 pledges received, total amount: £35, 520 and counting. The amounts pledged range from £20 (1 share) all the way up to the largest single pledge so far of £10,000 (500 shares). The average pledge is nearly £900 and the most distant has come from Spain!

Further details and the opportunity to make a pledge can be found on the online pledge form.

Questionnaire

Please fill out this quick questionnaire.

To succeed, the pub campaign group need as many people as possible to get involved and raise a lot of money quite quickly. But first they have to prove there is plenty of support from local people to keep the White Lion going as a traditional English local pub and develop it into ‘More Than a Pub’, offering other community activities outside pub opening hours. The questionnaire is designed to provide the evidence that is needed.

So please complete the questionnaire as soon as possible and keep spreading the word as widely as you can, the more the merrier!

Background information

In recent years, Britain’s pubs have been closing at an alarming rate – on average, twenty pubs call last orders every week. Tragically, many of these pubs have been popular and valued community facilities in the past and could be so again in the right hands. It’s unfortunate that many owners regard pubs primarily as property assets which are more valuable if their use can be changed to something else like a house or shop.

However, all across the country, communities are fighting back. Sometimes it’s sufficient to see off an unwanted planning application through effective campaigning. In some cases, though, the best way forward for local people has been to buy the pub themselves. Well over 100 pubs are now community-owned with many more in the pipeline.

Needless to say, as champions of Britain’s pub-goers, CAMRA is hugely in favour of these developments and we are keen to help communities interested in going down this road.

In recognition of the fact that communities value their pub, but often need time to organise and raise funds, the Government introduced the Asset of Community Value (ACV) Regulations. This means that a community group can seek to have a local pub listed as an ACV and if successful then if the owner later decides to sell the pub, the owner has to give the community up to 6 months to submit an offer to buy the pub.

This is exactly the situation that The White Lion in Aldershot currently finds itself in. The White Lion was built shortly after the army arrived in Aldershot in 1854 and is one of the oldest surviving pubs in the town. In the eastern suburbs of Aldershot, this is a proper locals' pub with loads of 60's atmosphere, exactly the sort of pub that offers so much to its local community. The pub is well known to local Real Ale enthusiasts too for its 10+ years in the Good Beer Guide, during which time it has been leased to and run by Triple fff Brewery. The lease expired in January and regrettably Triple fff decided not to take on a new lease. The freehold is owned by a private individual, who has decided to sell up. The freehold of the pub is available for circa £275,000 and whilst the owner is apparently perfectly willing to sell the pub as a going concern and the existing landlord happy to continue to run it, the future of The White Lion in its present form is, at the very least, uncertain. The White Lion was listed as an ACV until it expired on 15th May.

Alarmed at the potential imminent loss of a fantastic pub and local asset, CAMRA, working with the Aldershot Civic Society, local councillors and other members of the community galvanised interest amongst the wider community to get together and fund raise to buy and run the pub.

If this can be achieved it means that the pub would be both owned and controlled by a significant number of people from within the community. As a result, local folk would have a real stake in the pub and the opportunity to have a say in how it is run. The White Lion can then become a facility which truly reflects the wants and needs of the local area whilst still being a viable business – helped by the fact that people will often be more inclined to support and use ‘their’ pub.

An initial PUBLIC MEETING was held in the White Lion on Thursday 23rd January, where approx 140 people crammed into the pub to hear Mark Dodds an advocate and campaigner for preserving and enhancing the social value of pubs debunk some of the myths around community ownership of pubs and showed how this had been achieved for all sorts of pubs around the country.

A further meeting was held on Tuesday 28th January where a Management Committee was formally elected and the process started to join the Plunkett Foundation which will enable initial funding to cover costs of developing a genuine community bid.

If you have not visited the White Lion, it’s well worth calling in for a beer (when they reopen!) at 20 Lower Farnham Road, Aldershot. GU12 4EA.

If you want to be kept informed of progress then ask at the bar to leave your contact details, send an email to: moc.liamg@tohsredlanoiletihwehtevas or visit the campaign Website for up to date information http://www.whitelionaldershot.co.uk/

Downloads

Press release: Campaign to keep the White Lion in Aldershot as a pub launched
Flyer: Public meeting at the White Lion, Aldershot
Newsletter 1 - February 2020: White Lion Newsletter 1
Newsletter 2 - March 2020: White Lion Newsletter 2
Newsletter 3 - May 2020: White Lion Newsletter 3
Newsletter 4 - May 2020: White Lion Newsletter 4 Newsletter 5 - June 2020: White Lion Newsletter 5