We have been shocked to learn recently that the owners of our village grocery shop have made a number of extremely serious and damaging accusations against us. These have been contained in emails sent to Michael Gove at the Department of Levelling-up, Communities and Housing, to our local MP Mark Harper, and to various District and Parish Councillors. They include the claim that we fraudulently obtained £247,500 of grant money by submitting false information to the Community Ownership Fund.
We completely refute the allegations, which are untrue, grossly misleading, and represent a public attack on our character and integrity. We particularly deplore the fact that the owners of the shop made no attempt to approach us first to check the truth of their claims.
Our campaign to buy The George is a legitimate community project which is actively supported by 208 shareholders in the village and surrounding area. Our aim has always been to extend the range of local services and amenities and to increase footfall in the village for the benefit of all. Our intentions are clearly set out in our Business Plan and Financial Update, which are in the public domain for all to see.
Our grant from the Community Ownership Fund was awarded on the basis of detailed documentary evidence, including a full account of all the public engagement and consultation carried out since the project began. Applying for the grant took weeks of work by the committee, and funding was only finally approved on our second attempt. Our application was subject to strict eligibility requirements, and the information we provided was carefully scrutinised according to a rigorous set of assessment criteria. Anyone wishing to have a better understanding of the process is welcome to study the application guidelines on the government website.
Since finding out about the defamatory emails, we have written to the original recipients to defend ourselves against the accusations. We have also invited the owners of the shop to meet with us face to face to discuss their concerns.
We hope that reason will prevail and that dialogue will eventually enable us to find a way forward. In the meantime, we ask supporters to avoid discussion on social media and to carry on using all local shops and amenities as normal.
NoSCBS business plan
NoSCBS financial update