Llanblethian locals can sip and shop at the Cross Inn

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A father and son from Barry have converted the Cross Inn in Llanblethian, near Cowbridge, to include a new convenience-store service for the community with the help of a grant from the Vale of Glamorgan’s Creative Rural Communities (CRC).

While an increasing number of local pubs are being bought out by major supermarket branches, Cross Inn has been given a new lease of life thanks to funding from CRC, the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s rural regeneration initiative, and advice and support from Pub is The Hub, the rural pubs organisation.

CRC’s Rural Hubs grant scheme aims to diversify existing basic services, such as local pubs and community spaces, in order to offer new and improved services, as well as creating and securing a future for vibrant community hubs.

Since 2001, Pub is The Hub has always encouraged local communities, licensees and pub owners to work in partnership to support, retain and locate local services, wherever possible, within the one place that is accessible, open and welcoming; the local pub.

The grant awarded to Cross Inn, the first pub in the rural Vale to benefit from a CRC Rural Hubs grant, has enabled Arthur O’Leary and his son, Liam, to carry out the necessary renovations to launch the convenience-store service, including the construction of an oak cabinet, refrigeration, lighting and new signage to promote the new facility to locals and visitors.

The new service will enable customers to purchase home-made produce directly from the kitchen at Cross Inn, as well as other produce supplied from neighbouring farms and local providers. The pub will also stock a range of everyday essentials including milk, bread and sugar.

After 30 years serving as a landlord in a public house in Barry, Arthur O’Leary saw an opportunity to expand the existing facilities at Cross Inn in Llanblethian, which include a bar and restaurant, and increase the offer for the local community.

He said: “Having worked in the industry for a number of years, Liam and I recognised the increasing demand for services which make life easier for members of the community. By creating a convenience-store service at Cross Inn, we hope to attract villagers in to pick up those everyday items that they need as well as encouraging them to stop for a drink or something to eat.

“The new facility will also give us a great opportunity to enhance our income stream by selling our home-made produce, while also providing another outlet for local producers to promote their goods to members of the public. If the demand is there, we’ll also look into offering a meat and fish ordering service where customers can order food from our suppliers and then collect it from us the next day.

“In addition to financial support, the advice and guidance from the team at CRC has been invaluable. We’ve been put in touch with other pub landlords who have developed similar projects in pubs acrossEnglandandWales, and have been given some great insight into what works and what sells.

“We’re extremely excited to be opening our doors this month and showing the local community what Cross Inn now has to offer. We hope it will also help to increase the offer for visitors to the Vale as we embark on the start of the tourism season.”

Malcolm Harrison, Advisor for Pub is The Hub inWalessaid: “Projects like this always need the driving force of great pub operators – and Arthur and Liam are just that. Embedded in the heart of their community, they are well placed to understand the ebb and flow of rural life and its services priorities. We wish them lots of luck in their new venture.”

Creative Rural Communities is offering grants of up to £40,000* to support similar projects in the rural Vale of Glamorgan.

Mari-Wyn Elias-Jones, Senior Rural Regeneration Officer at Creative Rural Communities, said: “Cross Inn is a great example of how local business owners can subsidise their income by expanding and diversifying their existing businesses. We’re delighted to be able to award this funding in order to safeguard the future of much-loved local pubs in the Vale of Glamorgan, and increase existing services for our local communities. We look forward to receiving a range of other applications from groups and businesses across the rural Vale.”

Funding is available until December 2013. For further information contact: Mari-Wyn Elias-Jones on 01446 704637 or email mwelias-jones@valeofglamorgan.gov.uk.

The Rural Hubs scheme is one of Creative Rural Communities’ six funding programmes supported by the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007-2013, which is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. For more information on Creative Rural Communities visit: www.creativeruralcommunities.co.uk.