Villages celebrate after bid to buy shop and post office is successful

PUBLISHED: 15:00 12 January 2017

Houghton Village Shop owners Margaret and David Ebdale,

Houghton Village Shop owners Margaret and David Ebdale,

Archant

Residents in Houghton and Wyton are celebrating after saving the villages’ last shop and post office from closure.

The store could have been lost after David and Margaret Ebdale, who ran the business for 18 years, decided to retire and planned to sell Ye Olde Village Shoppe and post office, in The Green, last year.

Following the couple’s announcement, campaigners have raised more than £560,000 to allow them to purchase the shop and secure its future as a community hub.

Steering group member Amanda Orchard, of Meadow Lane, said: “We definitely would not have got to this stage without the support of the village.

“They [Mr and Mrs Ebdale] are delighted as well, they wanted to see it as a community shop and they have been incredibly helpful in providing information for us.”

The group has raised £260,000 in pledges from members of the villages and a further £300,000 following a grant awarded to the steering group by the Big Lottery Fund.

“It just feels amazing to be able to say that we can purchase the shop. So many people, all volunteers, have put a lot work into an application.” Mrs Orchard said.

The shop was listed as a community asset in December 2015 which allowed the residents a chance to buy the shop before it was listed for sale on the open market.

“We wanted it to be a community shop because it is much more in-keeping with the community ethos that it already has. The shop does other things such as posts notices for local events and publicises local activities,” said Mrs Orchard.

“If it was bought by someone else their number one priority will be a commercial venture.”

It was feared that if the shop was sold it could be turned into houses after estimations by estate agents revealed that it would have been the most commercially viable option.

Mrs Orchard added: “We wanted to stop anyone doing that as it would have meant losing a vital amenity.”

Once the shop is purchased and opened it will be run by a full-time manager, a post master, as well as part-time members of staff, who are already employed by the store.

Along with paid staff there will also be an opportunity for members of the community to volunteer.

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