Almost 80 people attended the meeting at the Comrades Hall in Broadwindsor to hear the plan from the 11 strong Save The White Lion committee along with almost another 50 people joining in on Zoom.
Chairman of the newly formed Broadwindsor Community Pub Ltd., David Leader welcomed all and concisely laid out their 3 year plan to save our pub, The White Lion by operating it as a not-for-profit limited company.
(The Business plan, which includes the forecast can be downloaded HERE).
£30,000 has to be raised in a four week period to make this happen. Grant funding is restrictive for this type of venture. There’s almost £10,000 raised already:
- £5,400 – Broadwindsor Group Parish Council
- £850 – Communiy Infrastructure levy
- £2,500 – Comrades Arms, to date (Well done Andrew!)
- £1,000 – Palmers Brewery
– the remainder HAS to come from the local community….. and the fundraising is time sensitive. Please see further below how you can help and direct links to their Crowdfunder campaign.
As expected, when David opened the floor for questions, there were several over the next hour and fifteen minutes. David did reiterate some questions for the sake of those using Zoom but it has been brought to the Editor’s attention that many couldn’t hear all that was being said. Here therefore, is a transcript of the questions that were put to the BCP Committee and the responses given. Questions from the floor and online are printed in bold. Questions were answered predominately by David Leader himself:
- What percentage would Palmers take in Yr. 3?
- Had anyone contacted CAMRA? Would Palmers close the pub?
Yes, this had been looked into. Palmers would have difficulty selling the pub in applying for change of use but they have succeeded elsewhere, in Beaminster for example.
- Will the lease be full tie?
Referring to a repairing lease, no. The responsibility for the maintenance of the building will remain with Palmers. We will be tied to Palmers in that we have to buy their products. Luke added, it is not a lease, it is a tenancy.
- What assurance did the group have that Palmers would not increase their percentages after Year 3?
We only have guarantees up to the end of year 3. The current mood with Palmers is very supportive. Fraser added that if this works as a model, it is something Palmers may be interested in doing with various other pubs. It is in their interests to see it work.
- Have Palmers done this in the past?
In essence no, but there is the community run New Inn at Shipton Gorge. A different model as the community have a full repairing lease to the pub making their financial liabilities massively greater than our model.
- With the directorship change and challenges currently happening at Palmers, were the group dealing with the new or old structure?
We have been working with both. The changes have been going on for the last few months whilst negotiations have been going on. No one knows what will happen with Palmers. There is a division there. We are informed the pub side of the business will remain on John Palmer‘s side. He is the one we have been negotiating with.
- John Palmer is now 70. His daughter Emily is looking to restructure the company. She is known to be very supportive of communities. I would suggest after 18 months of training, we go back to Palmers with our figures and renegotiate figures after Year 3 then.
A good point and we will always, with Palmers drive the very best possible deal we can. Luke added that Head of Tenancy at Palmers, Jim Jones had commented that he had never had a rougher time than negotiating with us than with anyone before.
- In costs, it states £1,000 for glassware. Does this mean Palmers have taken all the glasses out of the pub and we have to buy our own?
Yes. There is no glassware in the pub. That is standard. Andrew explained that in taking a pub on you buy the inventory from the outgoing tenant. If there is going to be a gap in the tenancy, Palmers will then negotiate with the outgoing tenant to purchase the stock, furniture and fittings. This is what happened with Vikki & Spike so we have to create our own inventory. But, we have the opportunity to look at, pick and choose what we want from their warehouse full of stuff.
- How does the Committee expect to raise the £30,00? Is there a time scale?
£30,000 required from today. If money is not raised – the project will collapse. Rick then stated that local businesses were being approached and that they were applying for grants although excluded from a lot of grant making bodies because of the alcohol issue, there are still grants that can be applied for. No quick decisions are made. This has led to using Crowdfunder. Fees are low. Funds held in Escrow. Using Crowdfunder, the community can see it is raising money. If we set a sub target of £20,000, potentially, there are grant making bodies who could match fund up to £10,000.
- Dorset council offer start-up grants. Are you aware of that?
Rick continued – A couple of months back, we made a couple of grant applications but we were not established as a legal entity. We applied because of the deadline but we failed because we were not a legal entity. We now are and a number of us have signed up to Dorset Fund Finder and we are receiving regular emails what new funds become available. Our preference is Crowdfunder – if we reach our target, we may get an additional grant.
- What sort of timescale makes sense to you? When do you say, it’s too slow and not working?
We need to focus on the fundraising for the next 4-5 weeks. We are going to push hard from now.
- At £5 membership per person for the number of residents (according to Wikipedia) we have a long way to go. Would you consider a 10% one year discount card for use in the pub @ £60, 2 yrs £110 and 3 years @ £150. This would have a win win effect. An idea.
The membership is designed to be inclusive and involve as many in the community as possible. We’d like as many members as possible to keep us up to date with what people are thinking. for a community pub, this is absolutely the way to go. It gives you a vote at the AGM, the power to vote for the Management committee so that this becomes a democratic organisation.
We have looked at incentives. There are pros and cons. At the moment, we are not going to go down that route. It is something we will keep any eye on. For clarity, Luke added that you do not need to become a member to make a donation of any amount.
- How does Crowdfunder work? Can you see the amount being raised? Can you donate more?
Rick replied that the Crowdfunder site displayed a tally showing the progress, including any match funding. You can donate your full amount through Crowdfunder and £5 will be recognised as membership. It does not have to be 2 separate payments.
Sandra added, to become a member, you do need to complete and sign a membership form. Luke said that there is no problem with donating twice.
- Optimistically, both the Prout Bridge project raising funds for their minibus (target of 20K achieved in under 2 weeks) and Broadwindsor Cricket club raising funds (35K in 19 days) to keep their grounds had been very successful with the Crowdfunding platform. Could the pub endorse other community activities such as a cafe: coffees in morning or teas in the afternoon for example?
Yes. A very good point. We want to open it up to all the groups that exist within the community and outside the community: the creative writing groups, the W.I., chess clubs, many more different organisations. Much more than just a pub. A space which is open and welcoming. Free of charge. You can come in and make use of it.
- Will dogs be allowed?
We have no policy but almost certainly. Yes.
- We must share the information far and wide. The more publicity, the better.
Good comment. A very good point and the advantage about Crowdfunding, we spread the word far beyond our own community, further afield.
- They talk about £30,000 and about staffing and wanting a chef. I understand that a chef costs about £24,00 a year. Front of house management – I don’t know, about £16-20,000. Andrew will know what’s going on. With my calculations, this doesn’t add up…….. are we going to make a profit on this pub or is this donation to become a loss? Are we expected to subsidise this pub for the village ad infinitum or are we trying to run this as a financial business? And when do we pull the plug if it is not successful?
Sandra replied, we are running this as a commercial venture. We have to make a profit. We are not under the same pressures as an outside landlord would be. As long as we can cover our costs and our bills, that is all we need to do. The community will definitely not be subsidising it ad infinitum. We are actually looking to make a small profit in year 1. We have been very conservative on our estimates of income in Year 1 but we should make a small profit and we would hope to see that rise by the end of year 3.
- What fees/charges do Crowdfunder take?
Luke replied, Crowdfunder do not charge a fee as we are a non profit organisation. There are some payment processing fees but you would get that from PayPal and other transaction providers.
- The figures state £15,000 working capital in the start up costs. It will clearly take the pub to make a little profit. How will the new manager be paid in the first few months? Is this coming from the working capital?
Sandra replied, In a nutshell, yes. We do have a cash flow document which is online. It is actually looking quite healthy.
(The Business plan, which includes the forecast can be downloaded HERE).
Andrew added, we have had these long negotiations and difficulties in setting up as a legal entity, had we got your money and started at the start of the month, we would be running for the quietest 3 months of the year. We are, hopefully going to hit the ground running just before Easter and Easter is a good time.
- You were advertising for a manager, how is this process going? Also, will it be paid staff or volunteers as well?
Susanna replied, Yes. We are actively recruiting. We want a paid manager and chef in there. We are hoping not to rely on volunteers. Luke added that with reference to volunteers, it was a big point with Palmers in negotiation and they did not want it to be ‘a charity shop in a pub’. Everybody front of house will be a paid member of staff. there is a little flexibility but we would be drawing from a small pool of trained people.
- What about cleaners etc.?
Luke continued, it is a good point and there will be voluntary support for the non-customer facing duties in the pub. The book-keeper, the negotiators – all things that you don’t see and the customer doesn’t necessarily benefit from – there will be voluntary support helping with those. David confirmed that voluntary support would be there but very much in the background.
- You said you couldn’t any information from Spike & Vikki when they were in there….
I didn’t say that. When did I say that?
Luke intervened to state that they were unable to get financial information from them and he knew what the person was referring to. We couldn’t get a copy of their books…
Ok. Going a step further, you have done the calculation of 71 food covers and 151 drinking rising to 87 and 181 per week. How did you work these figures out?
Before replying, David wanted to clarify one thing: Spike and Vikki were actually very helpful, I personally had lots of conversations with them and we learnt a great deal from Spike and Vikki so I want to put the record straight. We also got figures from Palmers and then referred to Sandra to elaborate. Sandra said, the income figures are quite reliable. Palmers were able to supply us with figures that Spike and Vikki’s rent was based on. That was what was used to calculate the income figures and from there we have been able to extrapolate into how many we need to want to serve for food and how many we need to buy alcohol.
Ok. How many you want to do it but how many are actually going in there? Which is a different figure.
Luke replied, our Year 1 top line number is quite a lot less than Spike & Vikki final year of full trading. That pub has done those numbers comfortably in recent memory. We started with the top line number we know is achievable and then you work back on the wet/dry split, back on how much a plate of food will cost, how much will a pint of beer will cost and that’s how you get back down to the numbers.
But your figures – on the drinking side for example, 151 drinkers per week. I’ve been there on many an evening with only four or five people.
Luke replied, if you come in on Monday and on Tuesday – you become 2 drinkers on that occasion. After further discussion, Luke commented that in their last year of trading when the pub was extremely quiet, Spike and Vikki still achieved more than their topline figure. I appreciate what you are saying. I assure you it can do more than it needs to do.
- Are we planning on making more money on food or alcohol? What would the service hours be?
Sandra replied, without figures to hand, we are looking at increasing the food in Year 3. It started with a 50/50 split. We want to increase the food split and make it a 70/30 split by Year 3. Why? More profit on food.
Luke replied re:service hours – the topline numbers are based on seven service sessions a week: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings; Saturday and Sunday daytimes. It’s easier to make it go faster once you’re out of the blocks. We have to get it going.
- Optimistally, how will the pub be managed? By who? Will they be elected?
There are two parts to that – there will be a manager and a chef who will run the pub on a day to day basis. There will be a management committee that will have oversight of the running of the pub. The management committee will be elected on a rotational basis at an AGM. We stand down every 3 years.
Who are the management committee?
We are the management committee.
A very large management committee. I don’t see how you can manage anything if you have that many people.
Strange for you to say, but I think we’ve managed very well in terms of what we’ve done so far. We’ve met on numerous occasions, face to face and life on email is complicated and an awful lot of stuff to read. Yes, we are quite big in number but it works. As the business is established, maybe it will streamline itself a bit. We’ll have to see how it goes.
When will we, the community have our first say of who should be on that committee?
First of all, you have to be a member. Hopefully, we’ll get 200, 300 members – I do not know. We will have to set a date for the AGM. A third of us will have to stand down and then there will be an election and whoever goes on, goes on.
The community have to be happy with who is making the decisions.
Day to day will be the pub manager. Oversight will be all of us, collectively together.
Charles intervened to state that at the first AGM, all of the committee stands down and then, if they want to be, they can be re-elected. David continued, you’ve made a very good point, we want this to be absolutely democratic and that is why the more members we have is really important. We want as large a cross section of the community to be members and to have their voting rights.
- Can I just confirm that if I wanted to, I would not be able to buy 500 memberships and get 500 votes on the committee?
It is one vote per person.
- Thank you for doing all this hard work. It’s incredible what you’ve achieved. The committee were applauded.
- We’ve lived here for 36 years and the White Lion was absolutely thriving, a buzzing pub…. we have seen this pub packed to the rafters and we have also seen it decline. Admittedly, we stopped going. It was uncomfortable. You have to make people want to come. We have a problem with parking. Is the village hall car park available? Could a part of Bernards’ Place be comandeered for the pub? There are other pubs who have their gardens across a road. One outside of Salisbury, a busy road. Winyard’s Gap another example. There’s got to be a reason for people to come. If you build it, they’ll come!
You make some very good points. It won’t be dark and dingy by the time we’ve finished with it. Bernards’ Place – it’s an issue we’re actively looking into. Luke added, that’s come up a lot – no car park, no garden. I’ll come back to the same point: it’s done the numbers we need it to do, without a car park and without a garden in recent memory. Fraser added, it was dark and dismal and dank in the pub but the way we are looking at it, we are going to revolutionise how it looks inside. It’ll be a total transformation and I think that will encourage people to come to it.
David introduced Chris Edgerley – who coordinates the volunteers, because most of the manual work that we do for the refurbishment, we will be doing it ourselves to keep the costs down and to get it done in a timely way. So, if you feel you can help with the renovation, which will take place in a short time span so we can get it done as quickly as possible, please see Chris. Chris added, if anyone works in trade with any specific skill, that would be useful. Please let me have your details and I will contact you nearer the time.
- The car parking issue – in my opinion, there are public spaces outside the school that could be used in the evenings and weekends. I don’t see why it’s such an issue. That’s an option.
Luke responded, an easier win which is worth an enormous amount of money than getting a new car park, is to get every holidaymaker that can walk to the pub from within the village to come twice instead of once. If you can do that, you can make a massive amount of money. If people return, we will make significantly more money.
- What’s the plan with the accommodation upstairs?
There is extensive accommodation above. Four bedrooms. Probably the best way is for the manager of the pub to live within those premises. But, depending on the wishes of any particular candidate, we are open to negotiations.
What could you negotiate?
It’s possible a manager may want to live away or live in the village for example and don’t want to use the accommodation. Then we would have to consider what we do with that accommodation. There are a couple of options perhaps, depending on the needs of whoever becomes the new manager.
- Joining the cynicism of 151 drinkers a week, I don’t see it. When Andrew opened up the Comrades Arms, the first night it was standing room only. Last time I went in there, there were five of us. I’ve gone there (The White Lion) Friday, Saturday evenings and Sunday lunchtimes. Sunday lunchtimes used to be 3 deep at the bar. Now, this village isn’t a drinking village, I think.
Luke replied, first of all, in this model, a diner is also a drinker. The pub has 35 food covers. If rotated twice, there’s 70 food covers and 70 drinkers. So you can do that on a Sunday lunchtime alone. You’re exactly right, the village is not a drinking village. There are no drinking villages anymore. The only pubs sustained by wet trade entirely are horrible, flat rooved, inner city pubs that you wouldn’t want to go into. It’s got to have a great food offering. I know it looks a massive number when you see it like that but the pub is very capable of doing it. Sandra added, when we say 150 drinkers, that’s £10 a head. Now, if you come in and spend £20, that counts for two. David then added, so please come as often as you want to come 🙂
- What happens if you don’t raise all this money or the pub doesn’t make a profit?
It’s a business. It’s got to break even. That’s the bottom line. If it doesn’t break even, we’re all in trouble and like any business that doesn’t break even, we are in jeopardy of failing. If it does fail, it will close fairly quickly.
Do members become liable?
£1. Limited to £1.
- Andrew then spoke, how many people do you think are here tonight?…77 and over40 on there (Zoom), that’s 110 people. Is that 110 people that want the pub open or is it 110 people who just want to sit here and listen to us gobbing off? you want the pub open – don’t you? (Increasing in volume) Do you want the pub open or not? I want the pub open and I think that’s what we all want! Andrew continued (louder), Let’s get to the point and get the pub open! (There were cheers and applause).
- The Comrades Arms is not a good comparison for what the pub is going to be and the Comrades Arms doesn’t do food. We are already talking that the White Lion would be a food attraction rather than just the drink attraction. I know that more people use the Comrades Arms on a Tuesday when you can take your fish and chips up there, so I think the food swings it considerably.
Everyone of us here believes we can make it work. We looked at it. We’ve poured over it. We’ve analysed it. We’ve spent hours and hours and hours debating it. We’ve looked at other community pubs. We’ve looked at trends in the area. We genuinely believe we can make this work. Only time will tell. We all accept that. We start this project with a firm belief that we can make this a viable business, a hub for the whole village, something that we can be proud of.
- Andrew spoke again, I want first of all to thank all of you who have come and supported the Comrades Arm since we opened at the beginning of October and those of you who have helped on the bar – to date, you have raised £3,500 towards this project. (Applause) Andrew continued, the first £2,000 raised paid the deposit to Palmers. Thank you all. (More applause)
- Reiterating a comment earlier re: Crowdfunder – use Facebook and share it wherever possible, especially to those supporting local communities. Anyone who may have enjoyed a walk up Lewesdon Hill, share it!
- Chris Newall intersected, he had been reliably informed, apparently at present, the Comrades Hall is for Hall users only. (There was some laughter as David Leader is also chairman of the Comrades Hall committee).
- When the pub starts thriving, will Palmers take a larger cut or is the percentage set in stone?
The percentages are set in stone for the first 3 years.
- How about take-aways?
Yes. That is something we would do.
- For God’s sake, this is a community. This is a community hall. What’s this the car park is just for hall users? What’s that all about?
In fairness, before Covid, this Hall was used 7 days a week. sometimes twice in a day and every evening of every week. The hall users do probably put the shackles on the car parking spaces.
But it’s not sacrosanct.
No, nothing is sacrosanct. Nothing is sacrosanct. I can make a point that if the car park isn’t being used by the hall users then maybe an arrangement so that the pub can use any available space that there is so we maximise the car parking spaces here (at the Hall)
Nothing has been said about passing trade. In the past, it was good. People would travel to come here. Perhaps some signage or information on where to park. It’ll be easier.
A good point. Luke then added, social media as well, don’t under estimate it – we’re thinking of going through there. It’s the balance: we can’t say ‘oh, you can definitely park here’.
- At Birdsmoorgate, there is a sign for the pub at Shave Cross, nothing about the White Lion. We’ve put up signs without permission before – speed restricted area – why don’t we do the same with the White Lion? And…leave them there until somebody says you have to take them out.
Absolutely! Definitely. Marketing is very, very important. Margery concurred and said we really have to work on it and do it together as a community. We are a community. It is our pub and we want it back.
For the first time since the meeting began, David commented, there were no hands up. “This is great he said, that’s what this evening was all about: this exchange between us and you and hear what you’re saying, learn from what you’re saying and we will take all your comments on board, I assure you. We are very, very grateful to you. I said at the beginning and I’ll say it at the end, it’s absolutely essential that in the next few weeks, a very short time frame, that we raise this money. I’m absolutely convinced we can do it. I believe we will do it. We’ll only do it if we’re all generous as an individual and we work hard to get the money in. so share it. Share it with your friends. Talk to your neighbours. Try and make it happen. We are going to deliver to 400 households, the information document together with a membership document and another paper around Crowdfunding, so three pieces of paper. We will do that in the next week or so – another reason you need a big steering group else it would be erroneous. We will then return to you a few days later and hopefully collect your membership forms and hopefully collect from those who want to donate or hear that you’ve already donated through Crowdfunder.”
- How will we hear when Crowdfunder goes live?
Good point, we’ll put it out on Broadwindsor.org, on our own website Save The White Lion and on the Parish Council’s website as well. Luke added that Palmers had kindly allowed them to take over the White Lion Facebook page so it could be accessed through there too. Please share. 🙂
Rick added that if we were successful with the Crowdfunding and applied for match funding, there were criteria that had to be met. One: we must reach our target. If we don’t, we won’t get the funding. Two: there also has to be a minimum number of unique supporters. A unique supporter could be husband & wife with separate bank accounts, that would be 2 unique supporters. The same household doesn’t matter. It has to be two unique bank accounts. If we set it at a £20,000 target with a possible £10,000 match funding, we have to have 100 unique supporters. So a plea to couples, if you can donate separately, that helps us reach that number of unique supporters.
Are you able to monitor that number?
Yes. Luke clarified, if you donated and you donate again, that’s great but it will not count as two unique supporters. I think 100 supporters will be reasonably easy for us to get but I would hate to miss it on that basis. I spoke with the match fundng company today and they like to be seen as riding in on their white horse making these things happen, so one of the criteria in the liklihood of you getting match funding is much higher if you can show you ‘We’re getting there…’ We’ve got money coming in. The community wants it. There is support. They are far more likely to back that than if nothing is going on. It comes to the same point, we need to get behind the Crowdfunder campaign as strongly as possible because a successful Crowdfunding campaign is far more likely to get match funding from outside than one that’s not doing anything.
- On the membership form, can you stress that that’s the best option as you state cheques, BACS and cash payments are accepted. Surely you can increase your numbers there?
We will include information on the membership form (see below). You’ll be able to fill in the application online as well (see below). You don’t have to make a paper copy – all of it can be done online. All we require for you to become a member is your donation and your details on an application form.
- Some in the community may prefer cheque, particularly the elderly who may not even have access to the internet. Would Rick be able to enter their donation into Crowdfunder anonymously?
No. There is no problem if anyone wishes to pay by cheque.
- The account details on the form – does that go straight to you?
It would go direct to the BCP Ltd. account.
Would that be included in the Crowdfunder?
No. But the previous point made, although Crowdfunder is our preferred option, it can’t be our only option because it is a really valid point: some people won’t want to use Crowdfunder, because they’re not familiar with it, they’re not comfortable with it, maybe, not wanting to generalise, they are elderly and not having access to computers.
- Because we live just outside the village (on the Drimpton Road) we did not get any information, we didn’t get any invitation, nobody ever delivers anything to us so…
Apologies for that. Andrew then said he had their number and David pointed out it was Andrew’s area as well! (Laughter) Andrew would liaise with the couple.
- We live in Burstock and we had one person come around the village once and that’s the last we heard. My channel of information is now Rick at the shop. The notice for this meeting was only the second piece of information we had so you need to be careful and get a bigger audience.
Absolutely. Yes. Sadly, we do not have the Crowdfunder piece of paper available tonight. Rick stated there was a little more tweaking to do on the Crowdfunder site which should take a day or so. (Now LIVE – Click HERE).
- Bar prices – are they going up? Staying the same?
Luke responded, a great question, I can’t remember what they were when the pub shut so I can’t tell you if they will be more or less. It’s a Community pub. You have the turkey in charge of Christmas. Nobody here wants to be paying through the nose for beer and food so it’s got to be reasonable. Sandra added, it won’t be subsidised because we are running it as a commercial enterprise. Drinks won’t be subsidised. Food won’t be subsidised because it is a community business. There may be other things. We may decide to run a Farmer’s breakfast or something like that but it’s got to be a commercial enterprise. So we have to charge the going rate. The last thing we want to do is cause trouble for other pubs in the area. We don’t want to be going undercutting them.
What other pubs? (Laughter)
- You’re going to raise the money for it. I have no doubt. That’s the easy bit I say. There’s a lot of concern whether you’re going to get the people in there and I’ve been told numbers have dropped off over the years. Have you got a Sales & Marketing sub committee? Because if you sell (promote) this pub… I spoke with Spike at the end and asked ‘Is this a viable pub? Is it truly viable?’ He said “Yes. It is viable.” I asked him ‘What would your biggest wish of been if you stayed?’ Spike replied “Somebody selling the pub for me. Somebody telling the community what a fantastic pub it is.” It’s been a great loss. Start thinking about your marketing now.
We are and have been thinking about it. Margery is very much leading on the marketing side and this will grow and grow expodnentially as we get closer and closer to opening.
With no more questions, David thanked everybody for coming. Chairs were replaced and many went upstairs to the Comrades Arms.
Their Crowdfunder campaign IS NOW LIVE: Click HERE.
On your device, select Donate Now or on your mobile, Support Us – On your ‘phone – fill in your card details and donation amount. You do not need to open/create any account but you do need to put your email address in.
As important as getting the funds in – they need unique members. If you are a couple with separate bank accounts – please donate separately. This will ensure the project is as inclusive as possible.
Become A Member:
Complete the Membership Form HERE
Membership costs only £5.00 but they do hope you will be able to donate more to help them reach their minimum target of £30,000. Irrespective of how much you donate, one person = one vote. In becoming a member, you will be guaranteeing BCP’s debts up to a nominal amount of £1 in the event of its insolvency.
At the time of publishing, and in less than 24 hours, the Crowdfunder has already achieved 20% of the target at just over £4,000 🙂
The new signs were hung up Wednesday. (Photo credit: Margery Hookings).