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Campaigners need £160,000 to buy back Chequer Inn in Chequer Lane, Ash

By Eleanor Perkins

It’s crunch time for campaigners in Ash who have just days to raise £160,000 to buy their village pub.

Having saved the The Chequer Inn from being turned into housing in 2016, The Chequer Inn Ash Society has been working hard to raise the funds to open it up for use by the community.

Last year, they launched a scheme where supporters could buy £100 shares, raising £220,000.

The Chequer Inn. Picture: Tony Flashman
The Chequer Inn. Picture: Tony Flashman

They have also secured a £50,000 grant from the The Plunkett Foundation’s More Than A Pub business support programme and a £50,000 loan at 8% interest over 10 years.

Campaigners say the owners have agreed to lower the asking price to £310,000 but there is still a shortfall of £160,000 which would also cover VAT, repairs, refurbishment and start-up costs.

And with contractual arrangements required to be in place by mid-March 2018, swift action is needed.

Secretary of the society Jane Greaves said: “Considerable interest has been shown already in this plan.”

The building in Chequer Lane is owned by a private developer who bought it for housing.

The campaign led to it becoming an Asset of Community Value (ACV) in spring 2016.

It is now on the open market to be sold with an asking price of £340,000 and, because of the ACV, its use must remain as a pub once sold.

The continuing campaign to save the Chequer Inn. Demonstrators in 2016 when it was saved from housing. Picture courtesy of Matthew Titterton.
The continuing campaign to save the Chequer Inn. Demonstrators in 2016 when it was saved from housing. Picture courtesy of Matthew Titterton.

Original campaigner Matthew Titterton said: “It’s wonderful that the local community have raised £220,000, and we’re very lucky to have so much support.

“We are now urgently seeking funding for the next stage.

“We will have a large VAT bill to pay on the purchase and are starting to investigate renovation and refurbishment.”

The need to raise cash quickly has prompted the society to reopen its shares scheme.

Mr Titterton added: “As well as reopening the share scheme so that shareholders and newcomers can buy more shares, we are looking to find further investors over the next week for the VAT.

"This is so that we can close the deal with the owners and take over this wonderful building for the village.”

n Further details are on the website www.savethe chequerinn.co.uk or email chequermates@gmail.com

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