The Oban Times

Thursday 17 August 2023

Unanimous backing for Lismore shop plan

Lismore Community Trust has the unanimous backing of islanders to pursue buying the island shop and post office as a community enterprise, writes Kathie Griffiths.

            The 100 per cent yes vote was won at a two-and-half hour public meeting in the island hall last week.

            Also at the well-attended meeting, there was an 84 per cent vote in favour of the trust converting to a Community Benefit Society (CBS)

            The conversion would allow greater flexibility and surety for fundraising. In addition to grants and donations, the CBS could issue bonds and shares in a community enterprise, explained the trust’s Andy Hough.

            He added: “There were lots of questions and answers and multiple votes at the meeting, including a unanimous agreement that as a Community Benefit Society we should pursue the purchase of the shop and the post office as a community enterprise.”

            The trust has already had an independent valuation on the business, which is currently a lease-hold premises. A working group, made up of experts in various fields, has been looking at profit and loss accounts and cash flow to make sure the venture could be taken forward for the community’s gain.

            In a previous community consultation, a feeling was expressed to see the shop relocated, by building or refurbishing a suitable premises elsewhere.

            “The shop isn’t just a convenience for the whole island, it’s a service. It’s a place where people meet, get together, buy food stuffs, hardware.

            “It’s very much a community facility. The post office is also essential, especially for our small businesses.

            “We are not looking at making a massive commercial venture out of it but any profit will be ploughed back into the community.

            “The decision was warmly received. There will be other opportunities for people to feedback and have a say as we look further into buying the shop and the post office.

            “This the backbone of what we are about, making sure we are doing what the community wants. The details of delivery will be down to us and we have to get it right,” said Mr Hough.