The community of Stonesfield is reeling today, following news that plans to save their village’s only remaining pub from developers, and run it as a community pub, have been rejected.

A campaign launched last year to raise the £480,000 needed to save the pub went global and attracted support from more than 1000 people across the world. 

Last night the Stonesfield Community was told that despite the success of the campaign, another offer to buy the pub had been accepted

It quickly grabbed the attention of international media, and the campaign hit its first £100,000 milestone after only a week of fundraising following the launch of the #backthewhitehorse community share sale, giving local people a unique opportunity to buy a stake in The White Horse and ensure that it was not sold to developers. 

Last night all 1000 members of  the Stonesfield Community Benefit Society were told that despite the success of the campaign, another offer to buy the pub had been accepted.

Simon Warr from the #backthewhitehorse campaign told us: “We have been told our offer, which was the full asking price, has been rejected and another offer accepted, but don’t know much more than that at this stage.

“There are rumours but we know nothing more officially regarding the status of the contract, who the new owner is or what their intentions are for the pub.

“We are going to try to contact the current owner to see if there is any chance of salvaging the situation and if not then go to the new owner to build a relationship if we can.

“This is obviously very disappointing to hundreds of people in Stonesfield and the surrounding area who have supported our campaign, and over a thousand people in total who have backed us so generously. We remain committed to continue to do everything we can to ensure Stonesfield has a village pub.”

The White Horse has been serving the local Stonesfield community since 1876 and is the last pub in the village having out-survived five others. At the beginning of last year the pub was being run as a going concern, but when the COVID-19 lockdown started in March, the tenants were forced to temporarily close the pub and, shortly after, gave up their tenancy. In July 2020 the current owner put it up for sale.

Once the broader village became aware of the planned sale of the pub, a small group of residents came together and formed a steering group to explore how best to secure its future. The community has been working with The Plunkett Foundation, based in Woodstock, who run the More than a Pub scheme and they have supported every stage of acquiring and setting up The White Horse as a community-owned pub.

READ LAST INSTALMENT HERE: https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/last-minute-extension-campaign-to-save-white-horse/

The opportunity to buy shares in the community asset and own a stake in The White Horse was due to end on November 30, but with fundraising going so well, it was extended over the festive season enabling the campaign to raise enough cash to meet the asking price.

Simon added: “The cash bid for the White Horse, at the full asking price with a guarantee to exchange contracts as soon as possible, lodged on December 18 2020, has been rejected.

“This was despite assurance from the vendor that if we could raise the asking price he would sell to the community. The selling agent, Fleurets, has confirmed that an alternative offer has been accepted. We do not have confirmation of who the proposed new owner is or what the future intentions for the White Horse are.

“We are bitterly disappointed to bring you this news having fully met all of the demands placed upon us to achieve the purchase of the property.  The intention of Stonesfield Community Pub Group remains to do all that we can to ensure that Stonesfield continues to have a pub.  As such, we shall continue to seek out the factual information that is required for us to make the best-informed decision as to the next steps.” 

Keep up to date at https://www.backthewhitehorse.com

SARAH EDWARDS

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