This page outlines our plan for how we are going to achieve our vision for community ownership of the Shop and Post Office to secure its long term future as an asset within the community.
This information is broadly based on our business plan – a key document required for any new business that outlines and demonstrates the feasbility
Due to the fast-moving and rapidly evolving situation we find ourselves in – everything here is subject to change and is based on the – we’ll do our best to provide regular updates and share them with the community.
Path to Community Ownership
- Register Weston SOS as a Community Benefit Society as an incorporated business with the FCA. (Incorporated as Weston SOS Limited on 17th July 2023)
- We need to raise the funds to purchase the freehold of the Shop, Post Office and upstairs flat and its stock through grants, donations, community shares and other funding sources. (We’ve applied to the Community Ownership Fund in October 2023 and will be launching our Share Offer in November 2023.)
- Carry out our due-diligence on the current shop premises and business as a going concern – this includes surveys, valuations and getting quotes for any work(s) required. (We’ve carried out a buildings survey and independent valuation of the premises and received a quantity surveyor quote for the cost of the flat renovations. Details can be found in our Business Plan.)
- Identify someone to take on the role of sub-postmaster and support them through the application/vetting process (e.g. interviews, business plan). (Linda Allinson, one of our committee members, has volunteered to take on this role and has 35 years of experience working with the Post Office)
- Purchase the freehold & assets of the property.
- We’ll maintain the current staff at the shop (as per our vision) but use volunteers to support where needed (e.g. restocking, holiday cover, bookkeeping) and with the support of the management committee.
- Carry out necessary renovation works to the flat to allow it to be rented out as an additional income source.
- Carry out any required maintenance / renovations to improve the shop, where funds allow.
Fundraising & Financials
We need to demonstrate that our business plan for community ownership is financially viable and feasible/achievable.
We’re currently working on refining our business plan to clarify the funds required and where those funds will come from – but we’d like to provide some indicative figures of the fundraising required below:
|Shop and Post Office purchase
(including freehold, stock, fixtures and fittings)
|Stamp duty + legal fees
|Working capital and other expenses
|Flat renovation works
We need to match these fundraising requirements with sources of funds – this will come from grants, our community share offer, donations and other potential sources of funding.
Our expected sources of funds are:
|Community Ownership Fund Grant
|Community Fundraising (Share Offer & Donations)
|£105,000 to £400,000
|£0 – £285,000
|Total Funding Sources
We received a fully-funded support package to help us prepare our application for the Community Ownership Fund and submitted our full application on the 11th October 2023.
As presented at the July public consultation, without being able to demonstrate the ability to significantly improve/increase the offering of the Shop and Post Office, we were unable to apply for a Community Ownership Fund grant of more than £250,000.
Our survey results showed an estimated community share raise of between £31,000 and £79,000 – we believe we can raise more than this by advertising our share offer more widely to the nearby villages and businesses within the vicinity of the Shop and Post Office. We’ll also use an online Crowdfunding platform to seek outside investment in our share offer.
Challenges and Risks
As expected of any credible business plan, we’ve produced a risk register that details all potential risks to our plan. At the public consultation meeting in July, we shared the four key challenges to the success of our plan:
- Lack of committee support
Since July, we have been able to recruit four additional committee members, including a new treasurer and an experienced sub-postmaster. We are still looking to recruit a secretary/administrator to the committee.
- Unable to raise sufficient funds
We need to identify sufficient funding sources and work on the financial aspects of our business plan – we’ve secure COF support and will work on this over the coming months. We’ve launched our pledge form to gather interest in donations & community shares and will be launching our Share Offer in November.
- Identification of new sub-postmaster
Since the July village meeting, we have welcomed Linda to the committee who has recently retired from her career spanning 35 years with the Post Office. She has volunteered to take on the role of sub-postmaster within the committee.
We need to work to a timescale that is acceptable to the current owner. We’d rather work with them to show we have a viable plan in a timescale that’s acceptable than to restrict their ability to sell it on the open market. We’re currently targeting an ambitious timeline of Q1-Q2 2024. We’ve submitted our Community Ownership Fund application in time for the October deadline and will be running our Share Offer in Q4 2023 to be able to determine whether we can raise sufficient funds from the community by the end of the year to be able to put in an offer to the current owner.
Our next steps are:
- Await the outcome of our Community Ownership Fund application. This is expected in 2-3 months from the submission deadline of 11th October 2023.
- Run our Share Offer in November & December 2023 to see if there is sufficient financial support from the community to bring it into community ownership.
- Apply for any other grants / fundraising opportunites that might be available to us.