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Community ‘broken’ following shock sale of Brimscombe Mill

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A community enterprise organisation is looking for a new home for the second time in less than three years following the announcement of the sale of their headquarters.

The Long Table, based at Brimscombe Mill, is part of the Grace Network social enterprise organisation and one of a number of businesses, including The Furniture Bank, Bike Drop and Kids Stuff, employing 53 people.

Founded by Tom Herbert and Will Mansell in 2018, The Long Table moved to its current Brimscombe Mill location in September 2021 after their former Brimscombe Port site was demolished and earmarked for residential use.

Tom Herbert Will North | Community 'broken' following shock sale of Brimscombe Mill
Tom Herbert and Will North

Last year, The Long Table welcomed more than 35,000 people to eat at below-cost price – many for no charge at all – while rescuing 3.4 tonnes of food destined for the bin and paying local suppliers fair prices for the rest, but now all this is at risk with the sale of their current home.

A spokesperson for The Long Table said: “In a surprising development, all of the social enterprises at Brimscombe Mill no longer have a home due to the property’s unexpected sale. This space, which we’ve lovingly enhanced with hundreds of thousands in renovations, is more than a venue – it embodies our commitment to this community.

Long Table 1 | Community 'broken' following shock sale of Brimscombe Mill
Tom Herbert (right), Co-founder of the Long Table, launched The Longest Table on Thursday, joined by Anna Jackson, Robert Haymon-Collins, Eric Walters and Suzi Booth. Picture: Matt Bigwood.

“This is a shock to us all. We had been trying to engage with our old landlord to purchase the building or extend the lease, but he sold it in secret without any chance to counter. We have spoken to the new landlord, but he has no interest in letting us stay on site.

DSC0287 | Community 'broken' following shock sale of Brimscombe Mill
Harry McKeown, Director at The Bike Drop.

“We are exploring other options for a home but we haven’t found anything viable yet. This puts all of the social enterprises and 53 jobs at risk.

“This isn’t just the end of our lease, it’s a matter of land justice, impacting a community built on countless hours renovating the property, and significant investment in materials. This community asset is at risk of being lost due to the way land laws work and the way the broken “system” works. It doesn’t feel transparent, fair or right – and now we face destruction.”

Will North and Carina Price of The Long Table | Community 'broken' following shock sale of Brimscombe Mill
Will North and Carina Price of The Long Table

The team at the Longtable are now calling for the community to pull together: “This isn’t the first time we’ve faced adversity as a community, and we’ll pull through it together.

“Until we move on, let’s thrive! Come in for a meal, buy furniture, get your bike repaired and buy some kids’ stuff. Support local jobs and your community.

DSC04451 | Community 'broken' following shock sale of Brimscombe Mill
Caroline West at Kids Stuff in Brimscombe Mills. Picture: Matt Bigwood.

“To help us work out what we can do next we will be hosting a couple of events in the Sanctuary space at Brimscombe Mill on Thursday, March 21st from 6pm- 8pm and a community planning session on Wednesday, April 10th from 6-8pm.

For further information click HERE

Tom Herbert speaking to Stroud Times in 2021 when they were forced to leave their Brimscombe Port home.

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