Successful social enterprises share stories

Successful social enterprises in the Cardigan and north Pembrokeshire area are helping local communities defy the economic downturn, a packed meeting in Cardigan heard last week.

Several of the groups met at the town’s Castle Café and Cellar Bar to share information about their projects and about funding and development potential.

They included 4CG, the community enterprise in Cardigan that has 650 individual shareholders and now owns the Pwllhai site and the old police station and courthouse.

The group’s Cris Tomos said: “It is a great story I Cardigan to have these community assets in local ownership for the long term future.”

He also described the development of the old Hermon School project, which was also purchased through a community share offer and is now planning to set up a community wind turbine to generate both power and income for the area.

Geoff Leavold, of the Cellar Bar rescue group CB500, told the audience that while the property is now in receivership it is still operating as a “leaving breathing profitable business”.

He added that the campaign to bring the Castle Café and Cellar into community ownership is still “in its early stages”. “We are offering shares at £100 each, and at the moment we are only asking people for pledges, not the actual money. The Cellar Bar is a unique opportunity for Cardigan, particularly as a music venue and there is a great deal of untapped potential here,” he said.

Other projects highlighted during the day were the Glandwr Community Shop; the Town Kitchen café and shop in Fishguard; a carpentry workshop project in Cardigan; the scheme in Eglwyswrw to buy the Sargeant’s Inn and create a new village shop and café; car-sharing clubs in Newport and Clydau; and a community supported farm.

Simon Thomas, regional AM told the meeting: “I am very impressed by the many projects in the area. You are full of ambition and ideas.”

He added that he would redouble his efforts to establish the Bank of Wales that Plaid Cymru was pushing for. “Local finance will be needed to capitalise local enterprises such as these. The Bank of Wales would act as back-stop for internet and business-to-business lending.”

Guest speaker Andy Fryers, sustainability director of the Hay Book Festival, said he was impressed by the “inspiration and ambition” of the many projects highlighted on the day. “This is the best form of community regeneration possible.”

For more information visit www.ecocymru.org.

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