Upham Village Shop Update – June 2015

A second meeting of USAG was held on Wednesday, 10th June in the Tommy Steele Pavilion.

Gwyn Halsall updated the group on the work of the Plunkett Foundation and the help they can give in the setting up of a Community Shop. Gwyn outlined details of the Plunkett Foundation. She was grateful to Anne Harrison for putting her in contact with them. Their ‘Shopping for a shop brochure’ had been circulated to everyone; it is a useful summary of options

The Plunkett Foundation is a company with charitable status. One of its main aims is to support the development of community owned shops in rural UK. We can email or ring Hannah Barrett for a chat/information any time 01993 814381, hannah.barrett@plunkett.co.uk

They have field advisors all over the UK who can come to see us on site and offer advice.

The model of community shop they support is a Community Benefit Society. They do not offer support to private enterprise.

We could have one large investor or consider a loan/grant from eg lottery, local council, fundraising etc.

Ownership scheme – depending on the amount of funding needed they suggest raising finance from the community by selling shares for between £1-100. No shareholder should own more than 1/3 of the shares. The model is strictly one vote per member and does not depend on the number of shares held. Should we prefer the Community Shop option, the Plunkett Foundation will clearly be a helpful contact.

Gary Armstrong had met with Mr Dhatt and established that, at the present time, he has no interest in selling the shop but is looking to rent out the house on a twelve month agreement.

There was discussion on the possible options.

  • No one had yet come forward with the intention of trying to buy the existing shop and run it as a commercial business.
  • Visits had been made to various Community and commercially run shops in the locality. Reports of the visits will make a good basis of information and ideas which will prove useful. There was strong feeling about the organizational difficulties of running a Post Office Local as part of the shop; it was felt to be better if the Post Office was brought in and run separately. All shops had a mix of salaried staff and volunteers.
  • Woodman Inn The owner of the Woodman Inn would be interested to look at any proposals USAG should put to him.
  • Village Hall  David Ashe had drawn up a feasibility study for a single storey extension to the Hall with access completely independent of the Hall. He estimated the cost at between £80,000 and £100,000. This had been discussed at the last Village Hall committee meeting.
    Gary Armstrong explained that UVH committee has anxieties about this proposal. The presence of a business premises might adversely affect bookings for weddings and parties on which the Hall relies and would affect the grounds and car parking facilities. The Hall is a registered Charity and the existence of a commercial business within the building might have implications on the charitable status.
  • Portacabin  Ashley Dukes felt that a portacabin or linked portacabins would be a cheaper option and, if we could find a site, would allow us to experiment with what might work well for the village.  They are secure and could be “dressed” to make them look more attractive. They hold their value so we would be able to get our investment back.
    It would be necessary to obtain Planning Permission for this; such permission lasts for five years and then would need renewal. The location would need access to services. It was agreed that this had the advantage of being a “doable” option.
  • Torbay Farm Development Site  It was agreed that this option as very much in the future and had the disadvantage of being out of the way, particularly  of passing trade. However, we should keep it in mind.

It was agreed a Working Party should be set up to investigate the various options and report back to USAG. The main issues to consider are:

  • Location
  • Type of premises
  • Costings
  • Funding/grant possibilities

It was suggested that the Plunkett Foundation could be asked to come out and give advice.

The working party will organise an Information Point at the Church Fete where residents can find out what is happening and have the opportunity to give their opinions.

It was agreed that any new shop would not aim to become a Post Office Local; a visiting Post Master for 2 days a week would be requested.

Members of the Working Party were agreed:

David Ashe

Martin Danby

Ashley Dukes

Nicola Hill

Sarah le May

Post Office Update

Email from Rob Worley 8/6/15

I am in discussion with a Postmaster about taking on Upham as an Outreach Post Office. He has been away on leave so if I hear anything new before Wednesday I will let you know. However, when I last spoke to him he was keen to help out. He is yet to formally apply and will have to submit an application and be interviewed by our Contracts team but that should just be a formality.
I am hopeful a service will be restored and may well need to follow up the interest from The Woodman pub fairly soon as they indicated they were interested in hosting the service.

Gwyn agreed to check on exactly what services an Outreach Post office will offer.

The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, 28th July at 8pm in the Tommy Steele Pavilion.