The shop and both pubs have been for sale for many years, and the Rose & Crown has applied for a change of use. It is clear that sooner or later, unless buyers to continue the businesses are found, they will close. One proposal is for the Parish Council to buy the Royal Oak, refurbish it and run  it as a combined shop, café and pub. The shop and café would be staffed by volunteers, and the pub probably by a tenant.

There is plenty of evidence around the country that while community shops and pubs are a major challenge to start, once up and running they nearly always remain successful, and are very beneficial to the communities which support them, in many more ways than just keeping the businesses (and the village) alive.

There are grants available to help with the costs, but in order to win these we need to demonstrate a high level of community support, including volunteers for various aspects of the business. This is why it is really important that as many people as possible complete the survey which should be going out this weekend (24–25 Feb). Unless we receive a clearly positive response, we will not be able to take the plan any further.

The survey asks separate questions about shop and pub. We do not know how the situation with the Rose & Crown is going to play out. It is unlikely that it would be practical to set up a community pub in competition with an existing pub, but please answer the pub questions on the assumption that any community pub would be the only one in the village. The position and size of the Royal Oak makes it a very attractive proposition as a home for all the community businesses well into the future, but there would be alternatives for the shop, such as an annexe to the village hall.

We are asking for each person in the parish and (and parts of Burrowbridge) to complete the survey, This can be done in a number of ways:

1)  Several forms will be being delivered to you door, and collected again within 10 days. If for any reason they are not collected, please return them to them village shop or to Graham Gleed (The Manse, Griggs Hill, Stoke St Gregory, TA3 6JG).

2)  Additional forms may be downloaded here. You can either print these out and return them with the others, or email them to Graham, (scanned or digitally completed).

3) There is an identical version of the form which can be completed online here. [The online version is now closed, but the paper version is still available for download, and returns are still being accepted.]

If you would like to know more about the details of the proposal, go to the Community shop/pub page.