Frequently Asked Questions

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These are the questions that we are asked most often:

What is a Community Shop?

A community shop is a shop that is owned and run by a community for the benefit of the community. There are nearly 300 community shops in the UK, and they are opening at the rate of one every 3 weeks.

How can I become a member?

Any local resident over 16 may become a part-owner of the shop.  Already over 200 have signed up.  It costs just £1.00.  Please download the form here. 

Is this a charity?  Will you get Gift Aid?

Yes, the fund raising will be via our charity which means your gifts will quality for Gift Aid.  You can download a donation form here.

Bledington  and Foscot Community Association Ltd
Registered Charity Number 155942
Registered Office: Trinders, Main Street, Bledington, Oxon OX7 8UG

  Will it be good value compared to local supermarkets?

Supermarkets are not as cheap as you think; our local Tesco is one of the most expensive in the country.  Freshford Community Shop did a survey that revealed a typical shopping basket bought in the village shop cost 6% more than Sainsbury but was 16% cheaper than Coop. This could save the average family £200-£300 per year, when you factor in driving costs. (£2.50-£5.00 to drive to Stow or Chipping Norton).

Where in the village would it go?

We have purchased land at Middle Orchard at the junction of Church Lane and Main Street.  We have planning permission.  The high quality wooden building will be in keeping with the surroundings and a structure of which we will be proud. Foundations have been laid.

What will it do for property values?

Estate agents say that house in a village with a church, a pub and a village shop sell at a premium. Some people say a village shop can add 5% to the value of local house prices.

What the shop will offer to Bledington?

The Bledington Community Shop will be a vibrant social place.  With a full time manager and 20+ volunteers, working 2-4 hours/week on average, it will involve many of us.  Essential Services include affordable basics – local produce – fruit and veg – milk, cream and yoghurt – wine and beer – store-baked bread– basic everyday items.  It will also be a place to meet with cafe, newspapers, notice board, a postal system, book exchange, notice board.   We want to have an apprenticeship scheme, to help a local youngster get into retail.  It will also offer great work experience for others in the village.  What it offers and how it is run will be up to you, as an owner of the business.

How do we know the new shop will be used?

The Bledington Shop survey, returned by 80% of local households, showed that:

84% would use the shop weekly
44% would help in the shop
27% would consider a financial investment

Are there other successful community shop locally?

Yes, many.  Have a look at Ascott-under-Wychwood, Charlbury, Blockley, Filkins, Finstock, to name a few.  The shop group has visited a dozen other shops.  We’ve interviewed the managers, we’ve seen their accounts, we’ve learned what makes them successful.

What will this mean for traffic in the local streets?

When you last ran out of milk, did you walk or drive?  If anything, the shop should reduce traffic in the village.  Those who used to live next door to the old village shop said that traffic and parking was never a problem.

  What does this mean for further building near Middle Orchard?

The planning permission that we have is for Community use only.  The remainder of the site is protected in two ways from further development.  First, it is covered by a Section 106 notice.  Second the Bledington Housing Association has a covenant over rest of land preventing any commercial use.  It is therefore protected.

How do we know it will be successful? 

The Plunkett foundation, the leading advisor to community shops reports that there are 283 community shops running, with new ones opening every 3 weeks.  Our planning has been extensive and checked by experts and assumptions validated by other who have run shops.  We have interviewed and visited dozens of other community shops.  For example, Ascott, a village smaller than Bledington has a popular, profitable shop.

In the end, it is your shop.  If you want a community shop, then please show your support today.

What happens if the shop doesn’t succeed financially?

Currently 96% of all community shops succeed.  But, if this shop did not work, the wooden building could be removed and the Middle Orchard site restored to its previous state.

How will the ownership work?

The shop will be owned by an I&PS (Industrial and provident Society for the benefit of the community) ie owned by you.  Anyone in the village can buy shares and become a member.  It’s one person one vote, no matter how many shares you have.

When will you open?

It all depends on fundraising.  We hope to start building during 2016 to open in 2017.

Who can be a member of the I&PS?

All members of the community (anyone with a connection to Bledington) over the age of 16 can become a member of Bledington Community Shop Ltd (BCS) at a cost of GBP1 a share.  ie in a household of two adults, both can be members at a cost of GBP1 each.  Download your membership here

What is the Management Committee?

The Management Committee will be made up of the elected Officers of Bledington Community Shop Ltd.  Acting on behalf of the members of BCS,  this committee will appoint shop staff, oversee accounting and performance,  and determine Bledington Community Shop Ltd’s general policy.

Why should I invest?

You are being invited to become a Member and participate financially in a community venture, whereby the community itself will raise the funds necessary to build and set up a village shop.

Who will benefit from this venture?

The community of Bledington will benefit directly from having a vital village amenity preserved for future generations, to be run by a democratic, not-for-profit organisation called an Industrial & Provident Society (soon to be renamed Community Benefit Society). In its rules is embedded the principle that the Society’s surplus profits will be available for distribution to other community projects.

Is it a good business proposition?

The community shop model has proved itself to be very robust. Out of a total of 259 community shops established in the UK, only 7 have closed, which is a 97% success rate. It is well proven that communities that work together to set up such a venture will support it in the future.

Who are the people organising this? Can I trust them, and do they have a personal interest?

The steering group making this share offer is a group of volunteers who believe passionately in preserving this amenity for the village. They do not have a personal financial interest in this project beyond the amount they have invested or donated themselves.

They form the first Management Committee of the Society.

Who will run the shop and the Society?

The shop will be run partly by volunteers and partly by paid staff, employed on the Society’s behalf by the Management Committee. The Society is run by the Management Committee which is re-elected each year by shareholder vote at the Annual General Meeting.

Is there a business plan?

Yes and it is available on request. email us at shop@bledington.com

What is my liability should I invest?

Your liability is limited to the value of your shares.

What voting rights do I have as a shareholder?

To be a shareholder you also have to be a Member of the Society. In a Community Benefit Society (also known as Industrial & Provident Society), the rule is One Member – One Vote. So no matter how large or small your shareholding, you have an equal voice.

Will the venture be able to build up sufficient reserves for me to withdraw my money in the future?

The business plan has taken this carefully into consideration and the Management Committee will ensure there is prudent reinvestment. Once the business has established a good track record, new customers will be invited to become shareholders. You should not expect to receive any return on your contribution to the Bledington Community Shop or even the return of any investment or donation that you give.

How much should I invest/donate? What is the minimum and maximum I can invest/donate?

The minimum share is £1, and the statutory maximum amount of share capital that can be invested by an individual in this type of Society is £20,000. Donations are not capped.  You can give your donations to our charity which means we benefit from Gift Aid.  Download a form here

I What are the rules governing the shares?

This is an extract fromt he rules of the IPS:

8 SHARE CAPITAL

8.1 The Society has shares of £1 each.
8.2 Application for shares shall be made to the Management Committee, and is subject to any maximum permitted by law. Shares shall be paid for in full on application.
8.3 The minimum shareholding shall be one share. The Society may from time to time make a public share offer, and any such offer may specify a minimum number of shares.
8.4 Shares are not transferable except on death or bankruptcy, and are withdrawable in accordance with the Rules as follows:
8.4.1 shares may be withdrawn by Members who have held them for a minimum period of five years or such other period as the Management Committee decides;
8.4.2 application for withdrawal shall be made on not less than three months’ notice, on a form approved by the Management Committee;
8.4.3 the Management Committee may specify a maximum total withdrawal for each financial year;
8.4.4 all withdrawals must be funded from trading surpluses or new share capital raised from Members, and are at the discretion of the Management Committee having regards to the long term interests of the Society, the need to maintain prudent reserves, and the Society’s commitment to community benefit;
8.4.5 all withdrawals shall be paid in the order in which the notices were received, up to any maximum total withdrawal specified for the financial year, following which no further withdrawals may be made;
8.4.6 except where a Member intends to terminate their membership, they shall not be permitted to withdraw shares leaving them with less than the minimum required by the Rules;
8.4.7 the Management Committee may waive the notice required for a withdrawal and may direct payment to be made without notice or on such shorter notice as it considers appropriate;
8.4.8 the Management Committee may suspend the right to withdraw either wholly or partially, and either indefinitely or for a fixed period. The suspension shall apply to all notices of withdrawal which have been received and remain unpaid at the time. Where the suspension is for a fixed period, it may be extended from time to time by the Management Committee;
8.4.9 during any period when the right of withdrawal has been suspended, the shares of a deceased Member may, if the Management Committee agrees, be withdrawn by their personal representatives on giving such notice as the Management Committee requires;
8.4.10 the Society may deduct such reasonable sum to cover administrative costs of withdrawal from the monies payable to a Member on the withdrawal of shares.
8.5 The Society may (but is under no obligation to) pay interest to holders of shares, as compensation for the use of such funds, subject to the following:
8.5.1 any payment of interest must be from trading surpluses and is at the discretion of the Management Committee having regard to the long term interest of the Society, the need to maintain prudent reserves and the Society’s commitment to community benefit;
8.5.2 the rate of interest to be paid in any year is to be approved by resolution of the Members at the Annual Members Meeting, and shall not exceed 2% above the base rate of the Co-operative Bank PLC from time to time;
8.5.3 the Management Committee may decide that interest shall not be paid in relation to holdings of shares below a minimal level.
8.6 On the solvent winding-up of the Society, holders of shares will have no financial entitlement beyond the payment of outstanding interest and repayment of paid up share capital.
8.7 In the event that a Member resigns from membership, is removed from the Register of Members, or is expelled in accordance with the Rules, shares held by them at the date of resignation, removal or expulsion shall thereupon become a loan, repayable to the former Member by the Society. The terms of repayment shall be those applying to the withdrawal of share capital set out in the Rules, and notice of withdrawal shall be treated as having been given at the point of resignation, removal or expulsion.

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