North-east villagers have pledged to push ahead with an ambitious bid to take-over their local pub.
Residents in Stuartfield have spent the last year raising funds to buy the centuries-old Crichie Inn.
The campaign was dealt a blow earlier this year, when the owners announced surprise plans to sell the establishment – the only pub in the village – at auction.
However, when it went under the hammer last week, the Burnett Street watering hole failed to sell – much to the relief of locals, who feared it could be sold to a private developer and lost forever.
After the auction, members of the Crichie Community Inn steering group gathered to review their situation and discuss options with potential investors.
Last night, a spokesman for the organisation said members had agreed to battle on with their buy-out bid. They hope to encourage more people to buy shares in the scheme and possibly avoid the need for a large bank loan.
Secretary Geoff Ewing said: “It was agreed that shareholders could be offered a percentage return on their investment after three years. This would give the business time to establish.”
He said an application would also be made to the HMRC Enterprise Investment Scheme. “If successful, shareholders would be entitled to claim a 30% tax refund on their investment,” Mr Ewing added. “In other words, for every £100 invested by a taxpayer, they can claim £30 back from the inland revenue.
“We hope that these incentives will attract new investors and encourage existing investors to pledge more money.”
The cost of each share has been set at £50, with a maximum holding of 400 shares per person or group.
So far the campaign has raised about £71,400, but more than £100,000 is needed to be able to submit a realistic offer for the premises.
The ultimate aim is to refurbish the Crichie Inn and return it to its former glory, making it a focal point for the community and providing a range of activities and entertainment.
For details about how to get involved in the bid e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01771 624512.