Welcome to The Comrades Club Blackpool!
I have embarked on this venture as a number of people have approached me with the suggestion of re branding the Comrades Club as not only a local facility but as a Re Union destination, "RE UNION" "COMRADES RE UNITED"
The Comrades of The Great War Club is currently in administration and its main asset, its building, is for sale to clear its long standing debts. The Comrades of The Great War Club as it was is gone.
I am delighted to hear that Joan Humble and Blackpool Civic Trust have successfully secured greater protection for The Comrades of The Great War Club, by listing it as an ASSET OF COMMUNITY VALUE (ACV).
It is hoped this A C V Status will highlight the plight of this building nationally and kick start a national fundraising campaign to re-open this once great club and save an important piece of Blackpool’s and the country`s heritage. A building that should be in public ownership and is a living memorial to past servicemen!
A C V status will also attract a certain amount of press coverage and may encourage a benefactor, entrepreneur or organisation to come on board. There will be an initial article in the Blackpool Gazette today. Tuesday 3 march 2015.
This A C V status will allow the community to submit a bid to purchase the asset, through the Community Right to Bid legislation! Any such bid would attract a certain amount of public funding.
The Community Right to Bid is an opportunity which was introduced under the Localism Act 2011 to help communities who are interested in taking over and running an asset in their local area. These Assets can be owned by a public body, private company or individual. I would support any such bid.
The Comrades of The Great War Club has been in this Historic building since 1920; the building is on the Heritage trail and is still home to The Blackpool and Fylde model railway society and ORB artists collective although the club is currently closed.
The vision is to purchase the building, form a completely new management structure with a sustainable business plan, then re-open the club and restore the core values of a place where the local community and all branches of the forces, veterans and their families can meet and relax in a friendly family atmosphere, a club that is not only a hub for the local community but a destination for veterans reunion`s and ex-services groups. Above all – a business that is sustainable. This would be done by forming a public or community interest company.
Initially the company would purchase the building and re-open the club as outlined. There may be scope in the future to redevelop the rear of the building in order to create function or multi use spaces together with potentially flats on the upper floors. These could be for local homeless ex-services personnel in partnership with a housing association or ex-services charity. The funding for this venture would come from shares, memberships, (local, national and international) donations, grants, social funding. benefactors, entrepreneurs, social investment and matching funds. The re opening of the club would not only provide community facilities but create jobs and bring additional tourism to this area of Blackpool.
I became involved with the Comrades Club only a few years ago after hosting a successful ex-services re-union in the club. Within months of joining the committee it was found that the club was in a great deal of debt. It had been building up this debt over a number of years.
An investigation by accountants found that the club had been buying its stock at too high a price and selling it too cheaply for a number of years, resulting in a negligible profit margin. Additionally the club had taken out a loan with a pub co a number of years earlier which in effect had resulted in the club trading as a tied house.
I have worked tirelessly on a completely voluntary basis for a number of years to save this club and building for future generations. My only aim has been to save as much of the club as possible, to find a new use for much of the under-utilised space and maximise the value of the club to the community. I am currently working on a business plan and exploring funding options with the help of Civic. Any new venture would have to be viable and sustainable and run by a professional manager. The Club could be purchased clear of all debts for around 180k.
If anyone would like to help or support the saving of this building please go to RE-OPEN THE BLACKPOOL COMRADES CLUB as a NEW VENTURE on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/reopenblackpoolcomrades) with info on www.comradesclubblackpool.com.
I will be seeking volunteers to act as Ambassadors to promote The Comrades of The Great War Club as a new venture.
The aim of this exercise is to gauge the level of support achievable before anyone parts with any money!
Please re-visit this website on a regular basis for further updates.