Case study: The Shuckburgh Arms, Southwick
Company - Shuckburgh Arms, Southwick
Owner - Villagers; managed by Roger Guttridge and Helen Jeffery
Website - http://www.shuckburghpub.co.uk/
Phone - 01832 272044
Above: Roger Guttridge and Charles Whalley are very proud of The Shuck's success since local residents invested in the business
In March 2014, Southwick residents were dismayed to hear that their beloved village pub was under the threat of closure and so took matters into their own hands by forming a consortium of investors to keep the business open and thriving. Following discussions with the property owners, Capron Estates and the creation of a business plan, forecasts and marketing strategy, a small committee of five locals put a proposal to the village - with 15 investors needing to put in approximately £1500, the pub could be saved. The response was overwhelming. Eight months later, the Shuck (as it is fondly named) has 32 shareholders with shares ownership ranging from £50 to £1200 and four donors and the target met and exceeded.
Established as a non-profit making community organisation, the pub is going from strength to strength with Roger and Helen at the helm pulling the pints and successfully managing all sorts of events including the renowned World Conker Championships, live music, village cricket matches, a 'Top Gear' style challenge involving driving to and around the Nürburgring and back as well as a popular food set up serving good quality pub food.
Local regulatory support
The licence belonging to the previous tenant had lapsed and as the committee and investors were keen to keep the pub open so as not to lose business, a new licence holder and Designated Premises Supervisor were needed quickly. With the support of Rita Groves, Licensing Enforcement Officer, the decision was made to use Temporary Event Notices until a longer term arrangement could be set up. At this point, Charles Whalley, a member of the management committee, said "I had a traditional view of councils and expected to hit a brick wall so it was very refreshing to meet someone who really wants to help you and provided lots of advice and time. The whole process was a complete eye-opener."
Rita explains how she helped to ensure the pub could remain open and serving:
Met with Charles Whalley to explain issues with premises licence
Had discussions to determine the committee's intentions and proposals long term and short term
Supplied forms and advised with regards to Premises Licence application process
Helped to resolve Designated Premises Supervisor application issues
As well as excellent local ales, shareholders were also keen to see good quality food being served and so, Racheal Phillips, Environmental Health Officer advised on food safety requirements and health and safety obligations. Racheal said: "It's always beneficial for us to meet with food business operators at the earliest opportunity. Initial meetings with Carl enabled us to talk about practices and procedures in relation to food safety and explore ideas for the development of catering activities in the future. We were also able to advise on areas to be tackled as a priority based on risk."
Support was also provided in the management of large scale public events such as the World Conker Championships. This involved the establishment of a formal Safety Advisory Group, bringing together a range of representatives from various emergency services along with relevant public agencies to provide specific health, safety and welfare advice to ensure public safety.
The Shuck continues to enjoy a loyal customer base from the village as well as much further afield with one holidaymaker stating "Never have I been to a pub on holiday where I've been made to feel like a local from the moment I stepped in." He really became a local when asked to play for the pub cricket team when they were one man down during a summer match.
The committee has applied for grants to help fund the business and other village activities. So far, they have benefitted from a Member Empowerment Fund contribution from ward councillor, Jeremy Taylor, a grant from Councillor Heather Smith's Empowering Councillors & Communities Scheme, they are part of the Plunkett Foundation's community benefit scheme which supports community ownership of pubs under threat of closure. And as it's all about the community, any profits made will not only be ploughed back into the pub but will also go to support other village assets such as the village hall and the church.
The council's environmental health team will continue to provide support to the chef on new kitchen equipment and regulations, particularly with regard to food providers now having to display menu ingredients.
Committee members will contact Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership for further business advice and support and the committee will continue to seek out funding opportunities to further improve the pub and other village amenities.
The future looks bright for the Shuck and its loyal friends.
Expertise and excellent customer service by council staff helped overcome regulatory issues that had the potential to stop the business launching
Valuable time saved due to an efficient and flexible approach by council officers
Helping the business achieve its local potential
Tailored and assured food safety support
Excellent standards of food hygiene
Higher levels of customer satisfaction