Peace in our time? Village shop company hopes weekend announcement will end “toxic feud”

Posted By on 21st May 2018

21st May 2018

By Graham Smith

The owners of the Tywardreath shop say they hope a meeting on Saturday will result in “positive news” which will end a feud which has split the village.  They hope to announce either a new manager and/or owner who will continue to run the shop for the benefit of the local community.

Trudy Thompson and Josh Taylor, through their Hunter Grange Ltd company, bought the shop in 2016 with funds raised from local residents, near Fowey.  They raised about £470,000 in “pledges”- which they describe as loans, which could be converted into shares.

They bought the shop for around £300,000 and a few weeks ago put it on the market for £420,000.  Ms Thompson said she took the shop off the market last week.

It was the appearance of the shop on estate agents’ websites which set alarm bells ringing and fuelled simmering tensions which exploded into a full-scale social media war.  Ms Thompson has described the situation as a “toxic feud” and refers to her critics as “haters.”

Meanwhile the shop is continuing to trade as normal.  It appears to be well-stocked and well-used, open from 7am each day, and is an asset to the community.

Ms Thompson told Cornwall Reports that she hoped a “pledgers’ meeting” scheduled for Saturday 26th May would hear details of new management, and possibly new ownership, which would result in all loans being repaid to anyone who wanted their money back.

Anyone who wanted to leave their “pledge” invested in the shop might also be able to do so, she said, adding that a mortgage was available to her, and that any of her pledgers could also seek a charge on the property.

 

Trudy Thompson tells Cornwall Reports that all of the loans used to buy the Tywardreath village shop will be repaid

The original loans were advertised as attracting interest payments at 6%.

“There has never been any asset-lock on the shop,” she said.  “All the loans were secured by personal guarantees.  We’re not going anywhere.  Those personal guarantees will be honoured.  Nothing has changed.  Everyone will get their money back, if that’s what they want.”

Critics have instructed a solicitor to investigate ways of recovering their money.  The pledgers’ meeting is in the Tywardreath village hall, starting 2pm on Saturday.

Ms Thompson said she did not favour a conventional community enterprise structure, such as a Community Interest Company or Community Benefit Society, because the requirement for relatively large numbers of voting members made such models bureaucratic and unwieldy.

But social enterprise experts The Plunkett Foundation said the Tywardreath case illustrated why local communities should seek advice before trying to rescue commercial ventures such as shops or pubs, and said an “asset lock” was essential to ensure the local interest was fully protected.