Una Mullally: Many pubs are on their knees. Let communities buy them

Community ownership of pubs and spaces will protect both commerce and venue users

While many people may balk at the idea of being on the board of a local pub with convoluted decision-making processes, it doesn’t need to be like that. Photograph: iStock

While many people may balk at the idea of being on the board of a local pub with convoluted decision-making processes, it doesn’t need to be like that. Photograph: iStock

A broken clock is right twice a day, and in that spirit, the Tories deserve some credit for advancing the Community Ownership Fund in their budget statement earlier this month. The fund totals £150 million, which will be allocated to help communities take over local pubs, theatres, music venues, sports clubs, and post office buildings. What it means in practical terms, is that groups will be able to apply for up to £250,000 in match-funding, and in some cases up to £1 million, to save community spaces such as sports grounds. 

Britain has a very different co-operative culture to Ireland, and we can learn from the co-op movement. While many people may balk at the idea of being on the board of a local pub with convoluted decision-making processes, it doesn’t need to be like that. There are plenty of examples that we can learn from – from community gardens to football clubs – where there is a community investment, overall ownership and a more direct management structure. 

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