Report from the Save the Queen’s Head Public Meeting
Chalgrave Memorial Hall, Monday 19th September 2016
God save the Queens….and if he doesn’t, we will! Chalgrave Memorial Hall was packed with around 100 people at the first open meeting to save the Queen’s Head for Tebworth. A nice surprise was the free food, wine and beer for everyone who came along.
PC Chair, Phil Parry opened the evening by stating that the Parish Council had registered the Queens Head as a community asset back in 2013 to try and protect it.
Ian Lothian, Chair of the newly formed Tebworth Community Pub Ltd, told everyone how they had to act very quickly to set up a community benefit society within six weeks of Charlie Wells announcing the pub was to be sold off, in order to be able to bid on behalf of the community.
Accountant and company secretary, Roger Masters, gave an outline of how the Plunkett Foundation had already been enormously helpful and would be offering ongoing guidance and even financial support through the process of making a community purchase.
Company member, Ken Green, said he had lived in Tebworth for 45 years and been a regular at the Queens Head for all of that time. It would be such a wrench to see it go, so we must do all we can to purchase it for the village.
Company member Keith Thompson told us he has experience of selling over 500 pubs. His expertise in this new venture will certainly be greatly valued.
The Chair of Toddington Parish Council recounted how their village has lost half its pubs over the last few years and that they would try and help us to avoid some pitfalls they had encountered over the sale of the Bedford Arms, a sad saga which still rumbles on.
Clive Coombs from CAMRA observed the traditional British pub is truly under threat. They have helped save The George at Silsoe, he said, and will be pleased to help us too.
Chris and Caroline, current tenants at the Plough in Wingfield, generously made a point of saying how much they support our venture, stating that the Plough and the Queens are very different and there is room for both to thrive and do well.
We were also delighted that Clive Ketteridge came along from the Village Swan in Ivinghoe Aston. They are a real success story, having purchased their pub nearly 19 years ago. They sold shares to the community and the value of those shares has increased over the years. They had help from many willing volunteers and the whole project really brought the community together, he said.
Project manager and researcher, Beth McCausland, has already got an online survey up and running plus the ‘Save the Queens Head Tebworth’ Facebook page. She said, ‘We have a draft business plan which incorporates a range of possible income streams and community services, and at present are carrying out a community consultation.
All in all it was a really successful and lively meeting. It was clear that so much work has already been done and that we are so lucky to have an enormous range of skills, knowledge and expertise to draw on in our community.
It’s going to be hard work, but I suspect it will be a lot of fun as people pull together in one common aim. ‘Let’s save the Queen’s Head for Tebworth.’
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Report by Frances Masters
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