Rishi Sunak sees major progress at Exelby community pub venture

Progress at a new North Yorkshire community pub venture has been checked out by its first investor - Rishi Sunak.

The Richmond MP was the first person to buy a share in the Exelby Green Dragon Community Pub venture near Bedale last year.

Since then the almost derelict pub has been purchased from a pub company, completely refurbished and has new tenants at the helm.

Mr Sunak visited the revitalised pub during the Tour de Yorkshire weekend when the new landlord and lady Tom and Becci Baker hosted a series of events to mark the passing of the race through the village.

He was shown the pub’s remodelled bar, dining/function room, new toilets and – the latest development – a deli-café serving locally-produced food.

After meeting the new team running the pub, and fellow investors, Mr Sunak tried his hand at pulling a pint of locally-brewed ale.

He said: “The progress made since last year has been astounding. The refurbishment – with many local businesses involved – has been beautifully done and there is a great atmosphere about the place. The community group responsible have done an amazing job.

“It’s great to see the place alive again and the local community giving Tom and Becci their support.

Mr Sunak said the re-birth of the Exelby Green Dragon was a good example of what can be achieved by the community pub model.

“We now have three community pubs in the constituency. Exelby joins the Foresters at Carlton in Coverdale, the George and Dragon at Hudswell and I’m really pleased to hear about early plans for a community pub at Aldbrough St John.”

The community benefit society which now runs the Green Dragon has also created an affordable home for rent in an adjacent cottage. Future plans include a new car park.

Mr Sunak said there were more opportunities for groups wanting to establish commununity pubs coming up. This summer the £3.85 More than a Pub suppport programme, funded jointly by the Government and the community business charitable trust Power to Change, opens for applications.

Community groups considering taking ownership of their local  pub, either through purchase or long-term lease will be eligible. Applicants for loan and grant funding will be expected to demonstrate clear and significant benefits to their local community for their plans, as well as some funding already raised within the community.