A newsletter to members of the Beckley & Area Community Benefit Society
The Abingdon Arms tenancy
As communicated by email to BACBS members and others on our mailing list, the Society’s management committee has, subject to finalising the tenancy agreement, successfully recruited a new tenant to take over from Aimee Bronock and her team. A competitive recruitment process was undertaken, from which we selected a front-runner. We are currently negotiating the tenancy agreement and hope, in the next couple of weeks, to announce our new tenant. They and we will then set out their plans for The Abingdon Arms. They hope to take over the pub from 1st November, a tight but exciting time scale!
Pub improvements, maintenance & repairs
BACBS wants to hand The Abingdon Arms on to our new tenants in tip-top shape. So we will undertake some essential minor repairs and maintenance over the next month, though mostly this will be done out of hours. We propose also to install a handrail beside the steps from the bar up to the barn restaurant area. Of course customers can access the restaurant, without climbing steps, by asking for entry through the fire door from the pavement. A number of people have praised the new toilet block, but pointed out that the interior is very bare. We agree, but await the views of our new tenant before artwork and other decorations are installed.
When a person collapses, moments may count for their survival. Do you know how to resuscitate? Do you know Dr ABC? The Society installed a defibrillator outside The Abingdon Arms, and we are providing training / retraining in its use – Beckley Village Hall, 9.30-11.30am (doors open at 9.00), Saturday 12th October. There are a few places remaining: please contact mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible if you want to attend.
October “More than a Pub” programme
The Abingdon Arms will host our usual community events in October – the pub walk on Saturday 5th, coffee morning on Friday 11th, afternoon tea on Wednesday 30th, and lunches for the men (Wednesday 2nd) and women of Beckley (Thursday 3rd). We will be talking to our new tenant about establishing a community lunch open to all members of our wider community, from Beckley and surrounding villages – we’ll let you know the outcome.
October’s jazz session will be special, a 4-piece band featuring musicians who play together regularly in Oxford, and including some Latin jazz – Pete Oxley on guitar and Keith Fairbairn on percussion join our ‘house’ duo Frank Harrison (keyboard) and Mark Hodgson (bass). Don’t miss it!
Unfortunately the literary session scheduled for October, a Halloween talk about Gothic literature, has been postponed because of the speaker’s ill-health. But we look forward to an autumn poetry session entitled ‘Season of Mists’ on Sunday 3rd November and a talk about Littlemore Hospital: ‘From Pauper Lunatic Asylum to Mental Health Facility’ on Sunday 24th November – put the dates in your diary now.
Please see the October MtaP programme for full details.
Children’s after-school café
Aimee Butterfield ran the children’s after-school activity café at The Abingdon Arms every few weeks throughout the last school year or two, but no longer has children at Beckley Primary. The sessions were greatly enjoyed by children, and appreciated by their parents! We thank Aimee and her friend Liz for the effort and creativity they committed. Would anyone, perhaps a couple of parents of children at Beckley Primary, be willing to resume the café? If you’re interested, please contact email@example.com Meanwhile, parents and their children are welcome to pop into the pub after school for refreshments, though please do keep the kids under control!
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those of you who volunteer your time, energy and initiative to support BACBS – organising ‘More than a Pub’ activities, keeping the pub building and garden in good shape, advising the committee, sitting on the management committee, and in numerous ‘unrecognised’ ways. And indeed by using The Abingdon Arms and safeguarding it as a meeting place for our community! We, the Society, cannot succeed without your support.
Community survey results
Many thanks to all of you who responded to our survey. We had 138 responses, a healthy 36% return rate. The results and a summary are attached, but a few headlines:
A disappointing 52% of respondents rarely or never eat at the pub. You’ll see a number of reasons were given, and we’ll be discussing these with our new tenant. Helpful suggestions were made too, especially to increase the range of dishes and prices.
36% rarely or never drink at the pub. While we accept that not everyone wants to use the pub, we will be taking up, with our new tenant, respondents’ suggestions for broadening the range of drinks on offer, especially requests for a wider range of non-alcoholic drinks, ciders and wines.
From those who drink beers, there is strong support for local cask ales – and especially for our ‘house’ ale from the Shotover brewery.
Emphasis is given to the essential need for welcoming and responsive staff.
A number of suggestions are made to improve the pub and its garden – from the relatively simple (e.g. ensuring the stoves are kept alight in colder weather, installation of a notice board – which is in hand) to the more challenging (e.g. relocating the bar to increase drinking space and ease access to the new toilets) and the highly ambitious (making best use of the pub’s fantastic Otmoor views by creating a year-round terrace restaurant!).
Requests are made for children’s play facilities in the pub’s garden. We have taken the view that any play equipment would greatly increase our insurance costs, but we will look into this again. Some respondents raise objections to children’s noise in the pub and garden. We maintain that The Abingdon Arms is a family-friendly community pub, that our community includes families with children, but we will consider how the interests of customers without children, and the pub’s neighbours, can be respected.
Respondents present a strong preference (70%) for no background music in the pub, and for selective TV broadcasts only (61%).
93% support The Abingdon Arms being a dog-friendly pub, but with dogs kept on a lead and kept off the seats.
Many suggestions are made to enhance the attractiveness of the pub, including 7-day opening, a tenant who is present in the pub more, greater responsiveness to the community’s interests and much more. Do look at the summary and illustrations of responses!
BACBS Annual Members’ Meeting / election for committee
As announced in the September BACBS Newsletter, the third Annual Meeting of Members of the Beckley & Area Community Benefit Society will take place on Monday 18th November 2019 in the Beckley Village Hall, Woodperry Road, Beckley, OX3 9UU starting at 7:30pm. Doors will open at 7.00pm, and light refreshments will be provided. As well as hearing reports on the progress of your Society in the last 12 months, a key task will be to elect new members to the Management Committee.
This year there are two open positions on the Management Committee to which we will elect members. Three positions fall vacant this year due to the expiry of the terms of office of existing members of the Committee. As the Chairman will explain at the meeting, we hope to co-opt a Member from outside Beckley to one of the vacant positions leaving two positions to be filled by election.
If you have just a few hours to spare each month to contribute to the work of the Society, and to help ensure the continued success of the Society and The Abingdon Arms, please do consider putting your name forward for election to the BACBS Management Committee. Committee meetings are approximately monthly, plus time is required for the key tasks of the Committee which are distributed between its members. If you’d like further information, please contact Mike Hobbs, BACBS Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07833 676516.
If you are willing to stand, please email a short biography (max. 100 words) that outlines your interest and any relevant expertise, and how this can help BACBS, to the Society's Secretary at email@example.com by 27th October 2019.
As last year, voting will be conducted principally using the online service ElectionRunner. This greatly simplifies the administration of the election, and we encourage all to use this mechanism to vote. However, we will also provide a PDF form, which can be completed electronically and emailed or filled in by hand and sent by post, for those who are unable to use ElectionRunner.
Voting will open shortly after the deadline for receiving biographies from the candidates (27th October 2019) and will close on the 15th November, three days before the Annual Meeting.
Beckley and Area Community Benefit Society Ltd
Web: www.bacbs.org, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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