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Is your local bakery about to be sold or closed down? Join with other people in your community and you might be able to save it!
Join together with your neighbours and you may be able to save a bakery so you can all enjoy the benefits of delicious, fresh Real Bread baked from scratch in and for your local community.
The Localism Act 2011 is designed to start a shift of power from central government to people in local communities, allowing them to take back control of their lives.
One manifestation of this is The Community Right to Bid.
The Community Right to Bid applies both to public and private assets that are to be sold or closed and includes everything from a local bakery, greengrocery or other shop, to a community centre or pub.
Although this does not guarantee that a community group will be able to buy a particular asset, it allows the group to 'stop the clock', giving them a fairer chance to prepare a bid to buy a building or piece of land with community value - reducing the risk of, say, a local pub being sold off to a supermarket chain on the quiet before local people have the chance to decide if they want to stop it.
Local authorities now have to keep a public list of all assets of community value. If an owner of a listed asset is looking to sell it, they are required to let their local authority know, which in turn should then pass this information on to people in the community. Local groups then have six months to plan and prepare a bid to buy it before the asset can be sold.
The process will vary, but here's an example.
1 Identify an asset
If you learn a community asset is to be sold or shut down, your community group needs to decide if it’s interested in buying. It could be bakery, or perhaps a shop, restaurant or other building that could be converted in a Real Bread bakery. The more people in your community you can involve the better, including the support of an MP and councillors, as well as other voluntary and community groups.
2 Get your group organised and ready to make a bid
Decide what the best way is to structure your group. If you’re not an established community group, you need to ensure you have at least twenty one members who are on the local electoral register. It’s also important to have the right mix of skills within your group to prepare the bid and build local support - such as business planning, accountancy, public speaking and marketing/PR.
3 Ask your local authority to ‘list’ the asset
Your group needs to submit a short nomination to the local council, explaining what the asset is, why it should be considered a community asset - basically how it boosts the social wellbeing of your community, and giving details of your group. Your local authority will then decide whether to put it on a list of local assets of community value. If they decide not to list it, they will need to explain why.
4 Decide if you want to bid
Once you’ve been told the asset is for sale, your group has six weeks to register an expression of interest with the local authority to let them know that you plan to bid for it.
5 Organise support and funding
There is a range of funding support available from £10,000 to £100,000 for pre-feasibility grants and feasibility grants from Community Matters. If you are using community shares to buy a community asset The Co-operative Community Shares Fund can also help provide up to one third of the community share offer.
Getting support from local media can be invaluable in letting more local people know what they're about to lose and joining your cause.
6 Prepare and submit your bid
You have six months from the date your local authority tells you the asset is being sold to prepare and submit your bid to buy it.
7 The owner considers the bids
The owner decides which of the bids to accept.
8 The successful bidder takes ownership
The successful bidder pays for the asset and takes on the ownership, management and running of it. Happy baking!
On 5 October 2012 the Department for Communities and Local Government launched the Community Shares Unit. Being delivered by Locality and Co-operatives UK, the Unit is designed to support residents in taking community ownership of important high-street services at risk of closure such as a grocery shops, bakeries, local pubs and community centres.
Essentially it builds on work by Co-operatives UK to support groups using community share offers to raise funds. It will also develop standards of good practice, produce guidance materials and act as a hub to share information about community share activities up and down the country.
Bidding for the bakery will slow down its sale, so before you get carried away, please consider - is your group genuinely willing to not only put in the work needed to bid to save the bakery but also to run it? The existing baker is a member of your local community too, and it would be sad to see a sale of necessity being slowed by a group of people not prepared or able to make a commitment to make their Real Bread bakery a success.
You will need to consider how the business will be structured and who will provide the skills you'll need to run your Real Bread bakery should your bid be successful. Will the structure be a worker-owned co-operative, a partnership, a sole trader or a community interest company, and will it be run as a social enterprise? Will the bakery be run by paid staff or, if an appropriate to the structure chosen, volunteers or a combination of the two? Who'll bake the Real Bread - don't worry if none of you is a baker as you can bring in a person with these skills to be your baker...and then pass thses skills on to the next generation.
If you get involved in trying to save your local bakery please let us know how you get on. Your story and what you learn along the way could help to inspire and inform other local community groups. Perhaps you can share details of:
Please email realbread [at] sustainweb.org
If you'd like to suggest any online resources that you think might be of use to people wanting to save a local bakery by grouping together to buy and run it, please email them to realbread [at] sustainweb.org