Black Bull set to be Scotland’s first community pub

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Locals hope to raise £55,000 to buy the hotel in Gartmore from its current owners.

14th August 2019 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

A hotel and pub near Stirling could soon be the first in Scotland to be owned by its local community.

The Black Bull Hotel, in Gartmore, was put up for sale earlier this year after its current owners decided it was time to move on.

After they offered to sell to a community group for lower than market value, a group of volunteers was formed to investigate the feasibility of community ownership.

Plans were then drawn up to take on the hotel and convert it to a “hub and pub” space that could be enjoyed by everybody in the village. 

The project has received financial backing from the Scottish Land Fund, and campaigners now hope to raise the necessary community contribution of £55,000.

Colin Garvie, one of the Black Bull Society’s founding directors, said: "The creation of the Black Bull Hub and Pub will address some of the key challenges faced by the village, including an absence of facilities for an ageing population, social isolation, shortage of local activities for young people, limited local employment opportunities and a lack of public services and facilities to attract visitors to the area.

“The Black Bull Hub and Pub will generate the necessary revenue to pay staff, improve facilities and provide services that will empower the community to make Gartmore a better place to live, work and visit, as well as protecting the services and sustainability of the village hall and the village shop, both of which are also owned and run by the community."

Community benefit societies are a form of community ownership similar to a cooperative, where those who support the organisation can become members with a stake in its future. Any profits from the business must then be reinvested toward its social objectives.

The project is being supported by Community Shares Scotland (CSS), a national support organisation for any communities wishing to issue community shares.

James Proctor, CSS programme manager, said: “There are over one hundred community-owned pubs in England and Wales but this is the first we’re aware of in Scotland.

“We’re starting to see more and more communities look at community shares as a way to save local pubs and we expect the Black Bull to be the first of several over the coming months.”