The mayor of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, Dr Nik Johnson, has visited the Houghton and Wyton community shop with members of the Plunkett Foundation.

The event, on September 22, was aimed at promoting the support available for community projects like the community shop in Houghton through the area's Market Towns Programme.

This includes expert advice, as well as small and large grants for community groups looking to set up a community-owned business, that could include retail, cafés, pubs, meeting rooms, co-working facilities, allotments, and accessible green spaces.

The visit, which was also attended by Cambridgeshire ACRE, was hosted by members of the Houghton and Wyton shop management committee, staff, and volunteers, who gave Dr  Johnson an overview of the business and the services it provides.

The business operates for the benefit of the community and uses any excess surpluses it makes to support community groups and a ‘Community Fund’ set up for the benefit of local residents.

The team also provided an overview of their six-year history, and paid testament to all those who have been involved with the business to date – including the 340 shareholders, who backed the project in the first place.

The Plunkett Foundation has provided advice, guidance, and templates, to help them to move their project from concept stage to being an open and trading business.

Susie Middleton, project manager at the Plunkett Foundation, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Combined Authority on this new programme of support.

"To be able to host the mayor at such an inspiring shop, which really shows how community-ownership can work for the benefit of local people was just fantastic.

"We are looking forward to seeing the community business movement grow across the combined authority area and will continue to champion examples of best practice, such as Houghton and Wyton, for others to learn from as they embark on their community business journey.”

Ann Utley from Houghton and Wyton shop said: “Everyone involved with the shop is so proud of what we have achieved, since the business opened in 2017.

"It truly is the heart of our village, and we aim to make sure that we offer something for everyone living locally.

"The staff and volunteers do such a fantastic job, and it was a real pleasure to be able to show Mayor Nik Johnson how we have protected this vital asset through community-ownership.

"It will benefit many more generations to come.”