As many in the village are aware, a small group of residents and Parish Councillors (for ease now called the Group) has been meeting regularly since the summer Public meeting to work on the feasibility of setting up a community run shop/PO here in Oxton as there were concerns regarding the risk of the current shop/PO closing if a buyer doesn’t come forward from elsewhere.
The Group has been gathering and analysing information from a wide range of sources as well as consulting with ‘The Plunkett Foundation’ who have supported hundreds of other communities and hence have considerable experience to provide an informed external perspective on the issues and risks involved in setting up and running a community-run venture.
Based on what we have researched plus the survey data analysis and discussion on
- the small volume of village survey responses
- the practical lead-in time needed to raise funds and on what basis to be successful
- the need for more residents with relevant expertise to get actively involved in the project/future management team
- recent difficulty clarifying the stability of the current Oxton PO business due to PO Ltd national policy changes affecting rural post offices
the Group decided this month that the Community is not in a feasible position to make any sort of offer to the current owner in the immediate foreseeable future and therefore it is necessary, at this point, to put the community shop/PO project ‘on hold’.
The Group felt it important to make the current position clear as soon as we could to facilitate the current shop/PO owner’s decision-making. Therefore he was informed last week of the Group’s decision that we do not intend to enter into negotiations to buy the shop/PO business from him on behalf of the Community.
We continue to hope that a commercial buyer will come forward and that they would use the results from the survey to open a business that incorporates all its suggestions and requests to meet the Community’s needs.
If this does not happen the Group will continue to receive support and advice from The Plunkett Foundation as how best to proceed in order to develop a plan that means the Community can open a viable village shop which will be financially sustainable and managed by the Community for the Community.
From the considerable time and effort put into the first stages of the project so far and useful contacts made and resources collected, the Group should be in a good position to resume work on the project should the shop close and/or when the lease becomes available and IF there is sufficient enthusiasm from villagers to get involved in the project and start fundraising.
We as a Group feel very strongly that keeping the shop and post office facility is of vital importance to the village and we will continue to strive towards this goal. We would particularly like to thank everyone who offered, via the survey, to work and volunteer in the shop should this become a reality in the future.
We will keep the Community informed of any further developments in due course.
The Steering Group