Going to the pub for a stamp or library book?

Communities interested in locating services such as libraries and post offices at the village pub have the chance to take part in a pilot project to do just that.

Not-for-profit advisory service ‘Pub is the Hub’ has had success in England and Wales in encouraging rural pub owners, licensees and local communities to work together to support each other and retain local services by locating them in the pub itself. Now they are turning their sights to Scotland and are looking for Borders communities keen to take part.

Since starting in 2001 Pub is the Hub has seen 27 different services located in village pubs, including shops, schools meals and IT training.

So just what could a Pub is the Hub project bring to your community?

A community-led approach to viable local services delivered in local pubs; an independent body sharing best practice and co-ordinating support and advice; a sustainable business approach to provide essential rural services within pubs; help to support, maintain and champion a sense of community; information on funding streams available for diversification or community run schemes in pubs; experienced volunteers and industry professionals providing a free service to licensees and communities.

The Black Swan, in Ravenstonedale, Cumbria, got involved in such a project and Louise Dinnes said: ““The support from local people and visitors to the area has been fantastic. It is the kind of community venture that I would urge more people to consider getting involved in.”

Berwickshire communities have already been inventive in finding ways to keep local services going - Whitsome Ark is a newly built community centre that includes, a community shop, post office and cafe. St Abbs created a community centre and cafe from the old primary school building and back in 2008 a third of Birgham villagers pooled resources and now own their local, the Fisherman’s Arms, which they were in danger of losing after it closed.

Pub is the Hub can only work with a small number of communities initially, but they are keen to understand what interest/demand there is for such a project in the region. If there is sufficient interest, communities and licensees will have the opportunity to take part in a workshop at the end of June to learn about opportunities to support local services through pubs.

Scottish Borders Council has contacted all communities across the region that have a local pub and those who are interested in taking part in the pilot project are asked to complete a questionnaire and submit it to alincoln@scotborders.gov.uk by May 31, 2014.

For more information contact Alison Lincoln, Scottish Borders Council, 01835 846661 or email alincoln@scotborders.gov.uk