The Case is Altered was put up for sale in 2011 by its previous owner Punch Taverns, following several years of declining trade. The pub closed between July and October 2012 and, after a brief period under a temporary manager, closed again in March 2013.
Determined to preserve one of our few remaining amenities, a group of dedicated villagers formed the Save The Case campaign. We undertook a survey of every household in the parish of Bentley, to gauge potential support for a reopened pub under community ownership. The results of the survey, which demonstrated significant support, were announced at a public meeting.
On 15 July we succeeded in listing the pub as an Asset of Community Value under the Localism Act 2011. This placed a moratorium on the sale of the pub for 6 months, during which time the pub could only be sold to a community interest group, allowing us the time to put a bid together and raise the funds to buy the pub.
On 13 August a not-for-profit Industrial and Provident Society (IPS), Bentley Community Pub Ltd, was established.
On 19 October our community share offer was launched, providing the community of Bentley and our supporters with the opportunity to buy shares in Bentley Community Pub Ltd.
After reaching our minimum fundraising target during the initial share offer period, we reached agreement to purchase the freehold of the Case is Altered from Punch Taverns.
On 18 February we were handed the keys to The Case and immediately commenced a programme of cleaning, essential repairs and redecoration performed by volunteers from the community.
On 17 April (Maundy Thursday) we opened for business as the first co-operative pub in Suffolk. Due to a lack of working capital after only just reaching our minimum fundraising target, in order to keep overheads down, the pub was initially run purely by volunteers from the community, with limited opening hours and serving drinks only.
On 1 July we became the first pub to win a Plunkett Foundation Rural Community Ownership Award, in the Better Co-operation category.
We commenced a major refurbishment programme, including construction of a fireplace, an extension to the bar counter and installation of new bench seating. Part of the funding for this came from a grant from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, to which we are very grateful.
One year after opening for business we extended the opening hours and began serving meals, with paid staff to support our existing team of volunteers.
Our initial refurbishment fundraising target of £100,000 reached.
Next Page: The Pub’s name