Sidbury pub to become East Devon community first

Campaign chairman Fred Burnett and secretary John Loudoun with East Devon MP and pub patron Hugo Swi

Campaign chairman Fred Burnett and secretary John Loudoun with East Devon MP and pub patron Hugo Swire and Red Lion landlord Neil Anthony - Credit: Archant

Regulars at Sidbury Red Lion are toasting a big step forward that should see it transformed into East Devon’s first community-owned pub.

Campaigners saw their bid initially rejected when they undercut the £295,000 asking price, but now ailing owners Punch Taverns have accepted the offer.

Sidbury Community Enterprises now faces the task of not only raising the funds to buy it, but also covering the start-up costs and footing the bill of their ambitious refurbishment plans.

Group chairman Fred Burnett said: “We are very pleased to have agreed a purchase price that is below what the owner has been asking for it.

“We need the community in Sidbury, and the wider Sid Valley, to now open their wallets and purses in order to raise the funds we need.”

The group wants to develop the pub as a social space to be shared by families, youths and older residents beyond the traditional pub offerings.

Sidbury Community Enterprises group will be launching its financing scheme offer in the next few weeks, in which anyone looking to invest can buy £50 shares, up to a total value of £20,000.

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John Loudoun, its secretary, said: “We really need everyone to buy as many shares as they can, because if we cannot raise all the money needed in the next couple of months then we will not be able to purchase the pub.

“In those circumstances this community focused-venture will not happen. We need local people to help us give the Red Lion back its roar.”

Sidbury Community Enterprises is holding open days to let potential investors know about the share scheme in the village hall on Friday, April 25, and Saturday, May 3.

Punch Taverns put the pub on the market last year as it looked to clear its £2.4billion debt.

Campaigners have been trying to preserve the last pub in Sidbury since May and successfully had it listed with the district council as an asset of community value, temporarily blocking its sale to anyone else.

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