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Please tell the Parish Council your view on a PWLB loan

We welcome your views on taking out a loan to help buy The Plough as a community pub and  hub.

Longparish is a wonderful community! We have worked together to defend our village against threats to our health and local environment from the proposed incinerator and COVID-19.

Now we’d like to do something positive to keep our village vibrant and supportive well into the future.

Community Facility

The Plough Inn has been part of our village culture since 1721, providing facilities for residents and visitors alike. When it closed in 2015 it was at risk of being developed as housing, so lost to the community forever. So on 2018 The Plough, The Cricketers and the village shop were registered as Assets of Community Value to give the village a chance to think carefully about what we want for our village community.

The purchaser of the Plough applied for a change of use from pub to residential, which was refused by planning authorities, who confirmed that such a change would lead to the loss of a valued community facility and be detrimental to the historic character of Longparish.

The Plough was put back on the market as a pub in December, triggering  the ACV process allowing 6 months for the community to put together a bid to purchase the pub. This time expires in June.

Not Just a Pub

Longparish residents formed a steering group in 2018 to explore how to return The Plough Inn to the community.  Their aim is to buy and reopen the pub not just to serve high quality local food and beer, but also to provide a social hub and community facility for the whole village.

Longparish Community Pub Ltd

The Longparish Community Pub company(LCPL) which has been formed to buy and run The Plough is a Community Benefit Society, which will be owned by members of the community who buy shares. It is legally obliged to “carry on business for the benefit of the community” and can only trade for the benefit of the community (not for private benefit). Any profit must also be used in that business for the benefit of the community.

With professional advice, the community pub company has put together a comprehensive Business Plan for acquiring and managing The Plough. The steering group has presented its plans to the Parish Council and asked for our support in facilitating the plan.

How the Parish Council can help support The Plough

The community pub company is raising funds to buy The Plough and get it back in business. It has secured grant funding and will be selling shares. But it is likely to need more money than it can raise, so will probably need to take out a loan.

Commercial loans are expensive. However, the Government has given local Parish Councils the ability to take out low-rate loans to support local projects. Many local councils have taken up this offer, as it allows them to support projects that they know will really help their communities.

These loans are made on behalf of HM Treasury by the Public Works Loan Board. They can be used for capital projects such as buying property for village use. The loan can be paid for over time by an increase in the parish precept, OR it can be funded by a formal agreement under which the Parish Council makes a charge for the use of the property so that the letting income covers the loan payments. In this case there is no cost to the Parish Council.

No planned increase in Precept

The Parish Precept is the Parish Council's share of your Council Tax. The Parish Council believes that taking out a loan in this form would be at no cost to the parish and would not increase the Precept because money coming in from LCPL will cover the loan repayments. 

The relationship between LCPL and the Parish Council

The community pub company has asked Longparish Parish Council if they would take out a PWLB loan of up to £300k for a term of 50 years at a fixed low rate of interest. This is a slightly different plan than originally suggested and set out in Parish Council Minutes. The relationship between the Parish Council and LCPL has yet to be finalised, but it will be designed to protect the payment made by the Parish Council.

The Parish Council may purchase the pub jointly with LCPL and be a co-owner. The Parish Council would be represented on the management committee. The Parish Council would lease their share of the pub to LCPL for the duration of the PWLB loan. LCPL would pay the costs of the loan and any legal fees, and regular ‘rent’ payments would cover the Parish Council’s loan repayments to PWLB. The details of this arrangement have not yet been worked out, and will be subject to proper scrutiny to ensure that the Parish Council interests are protected.

Security for the payment by Parish Council

If your Parish Council takes out a PWLB loan for this purpose, it intends to reach a formal agreement with LCPL to cover the relationship between them and secure the loan against the property. We expect that the loan will be secured by a first legal charge over The Plough, or by the protection given by joint ownership. So if the company defaults on payments the Parish Council could seek the sale of the pub and repay its debt to the PWLB.

Extra money will be set aside by the pub company and the Parish Council (from reserves) to cover two years' loan payments, so in the unlikely event that rent payments can't be made the loan repayments can still be made. If that happens we might sell the pub, lease it to a tenant landlord, or use it for other local purposes decided by the local community. Only if all this fails, and there is not enough value in the pub premises, would we have to resort to an increase in the Precept.

The Parish Council's view

Your Parish Council considers that taking such a PWLB loan:

The impact of the Pandemic

Your Parish Council is acutely aware of the severe impact of the current pandemic not just on individuals, their health and welfare, but on the economy in general and the property and public house markets specifically. Times are hard and it will be some time before villagers can gather socially.

However, we believe this opportunity to buy The Plough for the village provides a rare chance to own and develop a community facility, providing a pub and hub for whatever the village needs to sustain it as a thriving place to live, including opportunities for residents such as employment for young adults and part-time workers and  a social meeting place and support hub for various generations and groups within the village.

We believe this remains a good chance to secure this asset for the village in spite of current conditions, and hope that villagers will support the Parish Council in joining with LCPL in this venture.

Public Consultation ends Sunday 21 June

Your Parish Council acts for the benefit of our community. We believe that saving The Plough and extending its use will benefit a large number of villagers (not just those living nearby), and will benefit the village as a whole by putting Longparish back on the map for visitors.

We would like your view on whether the Parish Council should take out a PWLB loan to support the purchase and reopening of The Plough as set out above. Please let us have your view in writing by Sunday 21 June 2020.

You are invited to a the Parish Council meeting on Monday 8th June 7.30pm either by video link (Zoom) or in the Village Hall as circumstances permit .  Please inform the clerk if you would like to attend so that the required video link can be sent to you.

Alternatively you can share your views:

Further information is available

We look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Longparish Parish Council

(a shorter version of this note was hand-delivered to households in Longparish during the week beginning  18 May 2020, to ensure that parishioners are given plenty of opportunity to respond)