We need your help to buy the Fox Inn. Currently closed, unloved and neglected, we aim to reopen it as a thriving community hub.
by Richard Brown MBE in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom
We are The Bartons Community Benefit Society Ltd. Our vision is to create an independent, community-owned pub that is a welcoming village hub offering exceptional food, vibrant community events and genuine connections while complementing other local spaces within our village.
Our aim is to secure the future of the Fox Inn for the benefit of Middle Barton and the wider community. The pub will be a free house that serves local beers and sensibly priced, high-quality food prepared using locally sourced ingredients. It will be a place for gathering, socialising and cultural activities. It will facilitate the exchange of information, the promotion of social cohesion and a sense of community belonging.
The key factors that will contribute to our vision are:
In order to realise our vision, we need your help. By investing in our community shares, you will help us raise sufficient capital to purchase the Fox.
The management committee of the Bartons Community Benefit Society is made up of a group of local people who feel passionate about the Fox Inn. We are lucky to draw on a wealth of expertise and the committee includes a lawyer, an accountant and other upstanding community members with many years of experience in the business and the voluntary sectors. Our chair, Richard Brown, holds an MBE awarded for services to the local community.
So far in our endeavour, we have registered the Fox as an Asset of Community Value, carried out a community consultation, commissioned a feasibility study and a structural survey and held a series of public events to raise awareness. We have a comprehensive Business Plan, Share Offer and Society Rules that can be accessed below. We have received expert advice and support through our membership of the Plunkett Foundation. The local community have come out in force to rally behind the project. Please watch our promotional video, which showcases our set of replica stocks built by one of the committee.
The Fox has been a village pub since at least 1809 and is a building of great historical significance dating from the early 1700s. It is a beautiful Grade II listed building which used to host the local assizes justice courts and the village stocks. It is now the last pub left in the Bartons.
The Fox Inn has been a thriving pub in the past, attracting custom from the Bartons and more widely across Oxfordshire. However, due to a lack of ambition and investment from its owners, together with poor support for a succession of tenants, over recent years the pub’s reputation and consequently its turnover has decreased.
Stonegate Group put the Fox Inn on the market in June this year and, under the ACV rules, a six-month moratorium period was triggered by local residents, (during which time the pub can only be sold to a community group) until 27th December 2023.
The Fox is now closed and vacant, leaving Middle Barton without a pub. The final set of tenants felt unable to make a success of the business given the uncertainty of the situation and their lack of secure tenure.
The closure of the pub has been a great tragedy for the village. Opportunities for socialising have been greatly reduced and many activities and events that used to take place there have moved elsewhere or stopped happening. This has increased a sense of social isolation and community deterioration in the village. We are very much hoping to reverse this trend by reopening the pub.
"The beating heart of the village"
"An exciting venue for live music"
"A fantastic place to socialise and unwind with a pint"
"I love playing in the garden with my friends"
"I am excited about the different community projects that are planned, such as the Foxhole cafe"
"Going to the Fox has enabled me to meet a wide circle of friends since I moved to the village"
"An important part of our local heritage"
"It is heartwarming to see the community come together"
We firmly believe that the community ownership model is our best shot at reopening the Fox and enabling the tenants to run a viable and thriving business. The model would allow the Fox to be a free house so that tenants would not be tied into expensive drink contracts and we would set the rent at an affordable level. There are many successful community pubs in the local area, several of whom have been advising us. The overall success rate for community pubs in the UK is over 99%, in stark contrast to other business models.
When you invest in our shares, you will become a member of our society with voting rights, giving you a say in how things are done. You will also become a co-owner of the society's assets (the pub building and grounds) therefore making a rock-solid investment in bricks and mortar. Community shares have the potential to pay a modest amount of interest of up to 5% and our business plan shows that we aim to do this by year 5.
Shares cost £1. The minimum investment is £100. The maximum is £100,000. Our shares also make an ideal Christmas gift.
If we don't meet our target, Crowdfunder will hold any funds raised for a short time to allow us to look for other sources of funding that could make up any shortfall. If we cannot proceed with the project for any reason, then all investments will be refunded in full.
For more details, please see our Share Offer Document, Business Plan and Rules below.