Updates 1 March 2020
Following the public meeting on 4 April 2019, HOTV has come a long way. We prepared a Business Plan and a Share Prospectus, and had both validated for a Standard Mark by the Community Shares Unit. These were published at the start of the share offer in August. We held an informal drop-in meeting as promised on September 2, by which time the share offer was in full swing.
Now—share offer continues
Following advice, the share offer was initially time-limited to encourage early investment, but it has become obvious that it would be self-defeating to turn away further investment or new Members of HOTV at any point, and so it will remain open for the foreseeable future. We would however like to stress very strongly that we need to proceed with the purchase of the Oak as soon as possible, and the first stage is to reach our share offer target of £200,000. Please do contribute now if you have not yet joined us, or if you would be able to increase your investment.
We are making applications for grant funding in parallel with the share offer, but some applications depend on our reaching our share offer target, thereby demonstrating sufficient community involvement.
The share offer has now reached its minimum target of £200,000, which unlocks £103,000 worth of grants and £116,000 worth of loans which were dependent on that happening. We are applying for further grants, our eligibility for which will widen when we own the Royal Oak.
December/January—shop shuts…and reopens in a box
Our original ambition was to have bought the Royal Oak in time to house the new shop when the Village Stores closes at the end of December. This was always going to be a challenge, so we have now adopted a plan B: we will be taking delivery of a shop-fitted container (Shop in a Box) in December, siting it probably in the Village Hall car park, and transferring as much of the Village Stores as will fit, to open business from the new year. Ian and Karen will continue to run the shop from its temporary home until the end of March.
During this transition period, we will be looking for volunteers to learn the business from Karen and Ian, with a view to becoming a full community shop from the end of March. We will also be looking to recruit a shop manager during this period.
The process of training volunteers to operate the Shop-in-a-Box has been very promising, thanks to the efforts of Ian, Karen and Marilyn. We need more volunteers, and we are in the process of looking for a part-time manager, but early indications are that the shop will continue to flourish under community ownership.
Early 2020—Buy the Royal Oak
We will start the process of buying the Royal Oak as soon as we are confident that we have achieved a critical mass of finance. This will be dependent on reaching the share offer target, and on the outcome of specific grant applications. Members will be consulted before we pass the point of no return.
Necessary work on the building, e.g. to receive the shop, may be able to start before the purchase is concluded, but will in any case take place as soon as possible. We will be looking to recruit a pub manager in time to take over when the pub is bought.
We expect to make a formal offer for the Royal Oak during March 2020, and we hope to complete the purchase in time to start trading in July.
Hold the first HOTV Members Meeting and elect a Management Committee
Until now, management has been in the hands of a non-elected group, and our priority has been to raise the money and grasp the opportunity of buying the Royal Oak while it is still viable, but once the share offer is concluded and provided that we have raised sufficient funds, the next step would be to hold a meeting of all the Members (shareholders) and elect the first formal Management Committee to take the project forwards from there. This has to take place by 5 June 2020 at the latest (three months after the anniversary of our registration as a Community Benefit Society).
We are currently working on the process for the election of the first elected Management Committee, and full details will be published well before the meeting.