Consultation has been undertaken within the community via a survey and a public meeting has established an excellent body of support for the community hub project, with a high level of participation.
Highlights of our programme of community engagement include the following:
We have visited and consulted with a number of established community pubs and with other successful local pub and restaurant operators.
In line with our wider community model, we have also consulted with the village shop, architects, builders / developers, solicitors, craftsmen and other professionals in our community.
Last, but by no means least, we have drawn on local interest and offers of help to recruit a willing force of volunteers who have delivered newsletters, canvassed opinion and encouraged pledges of investment, and who will assist practically with the numerous tasks (e.g. painting and decorating, gardening) which will be required following community purchase of the Blue Bell. These actions have demonstrated an impressive and extremely encouraging level of community engagement.
In the first month of the campaign then, members of the community have pledged in excess of £150,000 in the form of donations and loans to the community purchase. This outstanding response has given us the confidence and belief that the community stands solidly behind the proposal.
Cocking has a population of approximately 450. The committee has sent out a questionnaire to the whole village asking for their opinions about the concept of what we are proposing and what services each resident would like. The findings are given in Appendix B but can be summarised as follows:
In December 2018, 230 survey questionnaires were distributed in the Parish. 70 of the parish households (33%) completed the survey, with 87% of the respondents considering a village shop and post office was ‘very important’. Similarly, the percentage of people thinking that the pub is very important or important was 75%. 95% of the respondents expected to use the proposed shop and post office (at least weekly). The results of the survey gave a clear mandate to progress plans to develop a hub for the community. Many suggestions were made for the type of facilities desired and these have been incorporated into the proposal.