A VILLAGE public house saved by the community three years ago is appealing to residents again, this time to help it cut energy costs.

Electricity bills for the New Inn, Halse, last month soared threefold and will now be about £36,000 a year, with total energy costs estimated at £48,000 when gas was added.

The pub was bought in 2020 during the height of the coronavirus pandemic and renovated after nearly 200 local people bought shares in it.

Now, it plans to use solar panels to generate its own power and reduce energy bills and is asking residents to fund the project by giving loans of a minimum of £500 each.

Spokesman Mike Davis said the plan was that by March solar panels would be installed at a cost of £21,000 plus VAT which would provide about a quarter of the pub’s electricity, 17,000 KW hours per year.

Mr Davis said: “We are not alone in facing this situation.

“The hospitality trade associations are warning of widespread closures, especially rural pubs.

"The New Inn uses electricity consistently so we do not believe battery storage will be necessary to maximise the use of the power generated.

“However, this will be assessed once the solar system is installed.

“To raise the funds quickly, we propose to raise the money through loans secured against the New Inn property.

“Repayment will be over six years with only interest paid in the first year.

“Fuel prices are forecast to come down in 2024, which will support the repayment of the capital.”

Mr Davis said the interest rate would be six per cent per annum and would be paid by pre-loaded gift cards twice yearly.

First year interest payments would be £1,260, which at the current day rate equated to a saving of £1,400 due to the energy the solar panels would generate.

Mr Davis said: “The savings versus the new quoted rates in the first year will be around £11,000 for the energy we will produce, having paid interest at six per cent.

“That is about 30 per cent of the forecast annual electricity cost, due to the difference in day and night prices.”

Mr Davis said a number of firm commitments had already been made by supportive shareholders but more were needed to take the scheme forward and allow quick action to secure the solar panels in the current market.

Anybody interested in helping can contact Mr Davis by email at [email protected] or by calling 07846 956036.

A pub has traded in Halse for more than 300 years and since a community benefit company was formed for the 2020 takeover it has introduced a number of new ideas, including a cafe, art displays, art classes, and guest beers.

In November, Lucy Turner was awarded a prestigious Rural Community Business Award by the Plunkett Foundation for her outstanding work, commitment, and passion in managing the New Inn pub and café.