An open meeting is being held to discuss the possibility of a community bid for the historic Manor House pub in Otley.
The meeting, which will be a sociable one, is at Otley Rugby Club on Friday, 12th August, at 7.30pm, and is open to anyone interested in assisting a community campaign and bid.
The meeting is being called by the Otley Community Pub group, which is seeking support to set up a community interest company to raise funds and buy the pub for the community, if there is no commercial buyer. The group is already in contact with the Plunkett Foundation and Otley Pub Club, which wishes to see the Manor House re-open.
The Manor House is currently subject to a six-month moratorium, triggered in June, which gives the local community six months to put a bid together to buy the pub.
Current owner Thwaites announced it was selling the Manor House on 13th May, which then led to an interim six-week moratorium, and the full six-month moratorium was triggered on 24th June. This gives the community until 13 November to seek to raise the funds to buy the pub.
Thwaites’ tenants, David and Eileen Stefan, left the pub at the end of July after nine years running it, so the campaign to re-open the pub has now begun in earnest.
National charity The Plunkett Foundation, which offers advice and support to groups seeking to buy and establish community pubs, has already given advice on how to progress and would provide expertise to support a community campaign.
The Manor, which dates back to the 19th century, is named after Thomas Constable’s impressive grade II listed home. It is an attractive mid-terrace property with a real community feel and a reputation for folk music, with sessions and open mic evenings. People can take a 3D tour of the pub, thanks to the work of Apollo3D.
All those interested in helping Otley get a community-owned pub are asked to come along and have a drink and chat on 12th August. With it being holiday season, and knowing many people will be away, those who are interested in supporting the community campaign are asked to email [email protected].
At the same time, Otley Pub Club continues to call for any commercial buyers to come forward to express an interest and as well as contacting Thwaites, to also contact Otley Pub Club via [email protected] to discuss how they can work with the club to see the famous pub re-open.
Lisa Herries, from the Otley Community Pub Group, said: “The Manor House is a cherished Otley pub and we believe that there is a real opportunity for a community bid to create Otley’s first community-owned pub.
“Towns such as Hebden Bridge and Sowerby Bridge have shown that community-owned pubs work really well in towns and fit in really well alongside other pubs, offering something both different and also unique with the community actually owning the pub.
“We hope that anyone interested in being part of a community bid will come along to Otley Rugby Club on Friday, 12th August, at 7,30pm, and we will have a drink and a chat about how we might progress a campaign, with the support of the Plunkett Foundation who assist community pub bids up and down the country.”
Rob Skinner, chair of Otley Pub Club, added: “The Manor House is an iconic Otley pub, a key part of the Otley pub scene and one that was both successful and popular until the Covid pandemic. Under the right ownership, it can be successful and popular again!
“It makes sense to explore the possibility of a community buy out, as happened with the Black Horse, with that then becoming a very successful Kirkstall Brewery pub. We hope people will attend the meeting on 12th August and we also ask any potential commercial bidders to email us to [email protected] if they are interested in buying the pub so we know that. What matters is that the famous Manor House remains as a pub with its unique offer, history and heritage.”