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Community Unites to save bookshop
The only independent bookshop in mid-Devon is poised to start a new chapter after a group of determined residents today (17 November) launched a community share issue in a bid to secure its future.
The Crediton Community Bookshop - a not-for-private-profit society - has been set up with support from The Co-operative Enterprise Hub and hopes its share issue will be a ‘best-seller’ and raise £33,000 to help bring the store into community-ownership.
After almost 30 years at the helm, its current owner, Jill Holden, was contemplating retirement but “jumped at the chance” of supporting the community when approached with the ‘novel’ idea of running the store.
It costs from £20 to co-own the store and Ken McKechnie, Committee Chairman and a Director of Crediton Community Bookshop, said: “We have been overwhelmed with the interest and support expressed so far and, believe that the energy and enthusiasm of booklovers, volunteers, visitors to the area and the wider community will secure this popular store for the next generation of readers and writers.
“Our main goal is to benefit the community by supporting local authors, promoting reading and literacy for all ages – with children’s books a speciality in the new store and, provide a meeting place and focus for reading and writing groups.”
The UK is witnessing a resurgence in community-led solutions to the running of businesses and services. From pubs to post office and retail to renewables, figures show a near ten per cent increase in UK co-operative enterprises - rising from 5,450 (in 2010) to approaching 6,000 (5,933) in 2011, with a combined UK membership up by 5.5 per cent to 13.5 million people.
The Co-operative Group – the UK’s largest member-owned organisation with 7 million members - has pledged a further £5m over the next three years (2013-15) to developing The Co-operative Enterprise Hub, a free service delivering the specialist advice needed for community-owned enterprises to get off the ground or grow.
Michael Fairclough, The Co-operative’s Head of Community and Co-operative Investment, said: “Communities across the country, driven by needs other than to maximise profit, are turning to co-operatively-owned solutions. These enterprises are operated by a general public increasingly concerned for accountability, transparency and sustainability. Together, they are helping to address some of the unprecedented challenges facing our society and environment and, making a significant contribution to rebalancing the UK economy.”
The launch event will take place at The Bookshop in the Boniface Centre, Crediton, on Saturday, 17 November between 4pm – 8pm. Renowned children’s author and illustrator Dame Babette Cole, historian Ian Mortimer and popular poet Matt Harvey will give readings and, members of the newly formed enterprise will be on hand to provide further details of its plans to create a sustainable community-owned enterprise.
Other community groups interested in co-operative solutions to the running of businesses and services can contact The Co-operative Enterprise Hub by visiting www.co-operative.coop/enterprisehub