The story of how a small north Pembrokeshire town clubbed together to save a community shop has inspired a senior Senedd member to visit to hear more about how the enterprise works.

Last year, a fundraising scheme supported by Cris Tomos of PLANED, finally raised enough cash to purchase Havards hardware store, which has traded on Newport’s East Street since 1840. 

Eluned Morgan, the Minister for Health and Social Services in the Welsh Government, called by to meet with directors and volunteers to hear about the scale of the task and their ambitious plans for the future.

The project has received international attention, with a German TV crew the latest in a series of media outlets keen to hear how Newport has taken a stand to preserving a local asset against the backdrop of second home ownership, an aging population and online sales and next day delivery.  

Ms Morgan said: “Especially in our villages and towns, small shops have and continue to play an important role in the fabric of local life and contribute positively to the wellbeing of our communities.

“Havards community hardware store is a great example of how community action and the share scheme is inspiring other communities to purchase other local assets, like pubs which can also be a focal point where little other social space exists.

“We know that by shopping locally, the pound in our pocket works harder by supporting local jobs and strengthening the local economy.

"I wish Havards every success for the future, with continued support, this community owned business will go from strength to strength and act as a beacon to others in these difficult economic times.”

Cris Tomos the Community Assets Coordinator at PLANED, who is also a committee member with Siop Havards, noted: “It has been a great team effort to raise the money to ensure that Havards hardware store remains open, there was a real threat that the doors would shut and all the stock and fixtures sold, with another empty retail space disappearing.” 

“The community shares model has worked really well and the business plan outlines that community investors will receive an annual 3 per cent dividend with a planned tax relief of 30% being claimed by qualifying investors in year one.”

Chris Morgan the company secretary confirmed: “We have raised over £450,000 from investors near and far. Keeping the shop open was the major driver to ensure that future generations can enjoy the experience of a local community run ironmongers shop.

“We are told that this is the first community owned hardware shop in the whole of the UK and it is a tribute to the local people of Newport for ensuring this important asset has been saved from closure.”

Tivyside Advertiser: Jane Thomas, Chris Morgan, Ros McGarry, John Harries, Cris Tomos and Eluned Morgan MS.Jane Thomas, Chris Morgan, Ros McGarry, John Harries, Cris Tomos and Eluned Morgan MS. (Image: Cris Tomos)