Village shop plan hits charity snag
By Ted JeoryA MOVE by enterprising villagers to set up their own pioneering post office and shop has hit a snag - because they could make a profit.Residents in Langham were so upset about the closure of their village shop and post office, they banded together to form a new combined post office and community store, funded partially by people buying bonds.
By Ted Jeory
A MOVE by enterprising villagers to set up their own pioneering post office and shop has hit a snag - because they could make a profit.
Residents in Langham were so upset about the closure of their village shop and post office, they banded together to form a new combined post office and community store, funded partially by people buying bonds.
But the Charity Commission might block the move because it is intended to run the new venture from the village hall car park.
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The hall and the car park are run by registered charity Langham Village Hall and, under Charity Commission rules, its charitable status could be jeopardised if it leased land to a profit-making enterprise.
Steven Spinlove, former chairman of Langham Community Council, the charity's ruling committee, said: “I've just received a reply to an inquiry we sent to the Charity Commission about these plans.
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“I've passed it on to a current member of the committee, but it does seem as though the community shop aspect of the venture may be a problem.
“It may mean that the committee may have to charge a commercial rent approved by the commission.”
The idea for the community shop, in which customers buy £10 bonds redeemable against the shop's stock when it opens, is the brainchild of Gill Flack.
She said: “We hope there won't be a problem - there are a lot of volunteers who are excited about what we're doing.
“We plan to cover our costs and any surplus we make will be put back into various organisations in the village, such as the school, the scouts and the WI.
“If we aren't allowed to set up the shop in the car park, we have a couple of other places in mind, but those locations are not as central and as good.”
A spokesman for the Charity Commission said: “If the charity wanted to lease an area of its land, they would need to demonstrate that the land would be surplus to the purposes of the village hall.
“We have advised the trustees of the need to demonstrate how plans for the land support the aims of the charity. We are currently waiting to hear from the trustees before a decision is made.”
Mrs Flack and her steering committee colleagues have raised £500 from the first issue of the bond scheme.
They are awaiting clearance for a £25,000 grant from the Countryside Agency, which will help them buy and fit out a portable cabin which they hope will become the shop's permanent home in September.