Call to buy shares in Neatishead community shop

Residents will have their first chance to buy shares in a planned community-run shop in Neatishead, near Hoveton, at a public meeting next Thursday.

Documents detailing the share offer are being distributed to homes in Neatishead and the neighbouring villages of Barton Turf and Irstead ahead of the meeting in the New Victory Hall, Street Hill, beginning at 7.30pm.

Martin Arnold, spokesman for a fundraising committee set up in the summer, said: 'Local residents have already pledged �30,000 which is a good start.

'However, we need to achieve at least that or the share offer will fail and the money will be returned to everyone who has bought shares.'

A public meeting in July backed plans to try to reopen Neatishead's shop, White House Stores, as a community enterprise.

It had been an important resource for more than 60 years until it went into administration last December, leaving 1,200 local residents facing a journey into Hoveton or Stalham just to buy basic supplies.

Subject to residents raising �30,000, the fundraising committee has secured agreement in principle for a grant of up to �30,000 from the North Walsham-based Victory Housing Trust. The trust's chief executive John Archibald will be speaking at the meeting which is also likely to be attended by North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb.

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Negotiations are continuing over the purchase of the shop, but if all goes to plan it is hoped to have it open again – set up as an industrial and provident society for the benefit of the community – early in the new year.

Residents will be able to buy a �10 membership share and investment shares for the same value up to �20,000.

The committee will be listening closely to the community to find out what people want in the shop.

The focus will be on basic supplies and food-box deliveries for people who are not mobile are also being considered.

Local craft sales are planned and there will be a coffee shop to attract holidaymakers visiting the staithe. A shop manager is likely to be employed, supported by volunteers.

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