Heptonstall Community Assets

July 2021 - Community Survey No. 2

We are well on with the business plan and share offer. To help with that, please take 5 minutes to let us know your thoughts on the products and services of the Post Office and shop. Click here.

June 2021 update

We have now registered Heptonstall Community Assets Limited - the legal entity that will purchase and run Heptonstall Post Office.

Community survey results (May 2021)

  • 375 responses

  • 300 people are willing to invest to make it happen with an average pledge of just under £600.

  • 78% of you think that a Post Office is a vital asset for Heptonstall village (98% think that it is important or vital).

  • 77% of you think that a convenience shop is vital for Heptonstall village (97% think that it is important or vital).

  • Over a 100 of you are interested in volunteering.

  • Enough money pledged to buy the Post Office.

The background

Would you be upset if Heptonstall lost its Post Office and the property became a holiday let? This is what is about to happen if we don’t do something now. Once it’s gone, it will be gone forever.

We are a group of Heptonstall residents, who feel we must try to keep this important village facility open. We are actively exploring the possibility (with the support and input of postmaster Tony) of buying and running the Post Office as a community business.

Tony is looking to retire at the end of this year and has been unable to find an individual interested in taking over the post-office business. He was advised to explore selling the property which has led to significant interest from buyers looking to develop the property as a holiday let. We think there is a real and viable alternative that lets us keep the shop and post office open. This community purchase option could be a brilliant solution.

While you might not have heard about communities buying and running businesses, this is actually a well-trodden path. There are currently over 300 community owned shops in the UK, with many of them including a Post Office so we would not be breaking new ground.

The plan we are currently exploring to finance the purchase of the business would use a community share offer. This basically means everyone in the community would be offered the opportunity to buy shares and then become the democratic owners of the business. In time the shares can be sold back to the business so your money is not locked in forever and they should pay a return so it would be at least as good as keeping your money in the bank.

We have an excellent local success story at the Fox and Goose pub down the hill, who did exactly this a few years ago. Better yet we have the expertise that made that happen in the form of Mark Simmonds, who is a community business advisor, living right here in the village and he is happy to help without charge.

Our community survey has given us confidence. Our next steps are as follows:

  • We have begun the application process with Post Office Ltd. to transfer the business into the community as a going concern.

  • We are creating financial projections, which look very positive.

  • We are currently registering “Heptonstall Community Assets Limited” to own and run the Post Office.

  • We are planning to raise the money needed through a community share offer in late 2021, with a view to taking over operations in April 2022.

Please get in touch if you would like to be more involved, particularly if you are interested in a paid position as part of the Post Office team.

Background reading

Citizen's Advice Bureaus guide: Setting up a community-run post office: what you need to know (PDF download)

Plunkett Foundation's guidance: How to set up a community shop (PDF download)

Community shares Unit guidance: Introduction to community shares

Possible funding and support, which we are exploring

Community ownership fund - government support to ensure that communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can support and continue benefiting from the local facilities, community assets and amenities most important to them. Up to £250K match funding. Launching June 2021.

Community Shops Network Facebook Group - they've done it and know the answers to the difficult questions.

Useful resources

Locality's guide to community engagement

GetSITR - advice around Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) which can be used to incentivise investment in social enterprise - 30% tax relief for individual investors.

Heptonstall Community Assets Limited | Community Benefit Society no. 8657 | Registered with the Financial Conduct Authority