William Powell AM calls for Community Benefit Loans for Rural Towns and Villages

July 16, 2012 3:07 PM

William Powell, Welsh Liberal Democrat Regional AM for Mid & West Wales today called for the Welsh Government to introduce Community Benefit Loans for community-based developments in rural areas.

His call has been prompted by the news that villagers in Brechfa, Carmarthenshire have failed in their attempt to take ownership of their empty local pub. Local people raised about £60,000 but failed to secure a purchase when the pub was sold at auction. The Forest Arms which has been closed for several years, was sold to a private buyer for £128,000.

William Powell commented:

"There have been a number of examples across rural Wales where local communities have tried to buy their local shop, post office or pub which has closed. Quite often it has been impossible to raise enough money in a short time period. That's why I am calling on the Welsh Government to establish a Community Benefit Loans Fund for rural areas.

"Such a fund would make a loan to a local community where there is broad-based community support for community owned shop or pub and there has already been a significant fund raising effort. The loan would then be repaid over a sensible and agreed time period.

"It is now vital that we support rural communities. With more closures of rural schools, post offices and chapels the ability to keep a local shop or village pub is vital to maintaining sustainable villages and small towns. At a time when grant funding is under pressure from tight local council budgets, a self-financing loan fund provided by the Welsh Government, is the way forward to help rural communities."

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