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Community pub launches shares drive for revamp


A Historic pub that became the UK’s first town centre community-owned watering hole when it attracted backers from as far away as San Francisco is to become a centre for Welsh culture.
Campaigners launched a community share issue last year to re-open Wrexham’s grade II-listed 19th century The Seven Stars under the Welsh name Y Saith Seren (a direct translation). Now the group, who set up the co-operative Canolfan Gymraeg Wrecsam Cyfyngedig (Wrexham Welsh Centre Limited) to run the pub, is launching a second share issue.
It’s hoped these will pay for a first-floor refurbishment of the pub to offer music, poetry and film and showcase the best of Welsh language and culture.
The group, which was launched with support from the Co-operative’s Enterprise Hub, wants to raise £40,000 to make the venture work.
Marc Jones, chair of Canolfan Gymraeg Wrecsam Cyfyngedig (CCWC), said: “We had a shared vision to build on the success of the National Eisteddfod which took place in Wrexham in the summer of 2011. The pub re-opened as a co-operative last January and this second phase will enable the first floor to be refurbished. It’s continuing the work to transform the building into a centre for the community by offering music, poetry and film alongside meeting rooms, office space and community facilities to promote Welsh language and culture.”
There has been a near 10% increase in UK co-ops over the past two years, up from 5,450 in 2010 to approaching 6,000 (5,933), with a combined membership of 13.5 million people.
Among the pub’s beers is the famous Wrexham lager, which is brewed less than five minutes’ walk away.
Michael Fairclough, the Co-operative’s head of community and investment, said: “A well-run pub is an important part of the social fabric of a community. Enterprises such as this – operated by a general public concerned for community cohesion, accountability, transparency, and sustainability – are showing how by working together, they can tackle some of the unprecedented challenges currently facing our society, environment and economy.”
The shares in the pub’s new venture start from £100, but Mr Jones said in the early years surpluses are likely to be ploughed back into the business before a dividend is paid.
He said: “The intention, because it’s a co-operative owned by the members, is when we make a profit to share some of that profit. But we all realise that in the early years of the venture any surpluses we make will be ploughed back into the venture.”
The San Francisco-based support for the venture came from Mr Jones’ former college friend Peter Davies.
• by Darren Devine, Western Mail
Wales online

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