A community is facing a race against time to buy their village pub – with just weeks left to raise tens of thousands of pounds.

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Villagers have until February 14 to buy shares in the Ten Bells pub at Stonham Aspal, near Debenham. The pub, which sits in the heart of the village, has been closed for several months, but last year residents formed a committee tasked with reopening it.

They set an ambitious target of raising upwards of £300,000 to buy the pub, which is currently listed for £210,000 on the market.

The committee will not disclose how much money has been raised, but chairman Tracey Hall said it was under £100,000.

She said: “We have got a long way to go. We will see what figure we get on February 14; then, depending on what the figure is, call a meeting with share holders. Some people have hung back until the last few weeks which is not helpful. We are trying to get people to really put their hand in their pockets.

“We’re trying to make people realise it’s not just about the pub, it’s about a community asset – somewhere for meetings, a possibility of a shop – all sorts of things.”

She said the pub had a lot of potential as it was close to the village school, hall and church, but understood people may struggle to find extra money for the project following spending over Christmas.

The pub is listed as a community asset until March 6 – which means it is protected from outside bids to buy the establishment from the owners Punch Taverns.

The current “minimum” fundraising target is £180,000 with potential to take out a loan for the remaining money needed to purchase the pub. Ideally between £200,000-250,000 will be raised to cover solicitor’s fees and refurbishing costs.

Earlier this month the community in Bentley, near Ipswich, was successful in striking a deal to run the village’s Case is Altered pub. The pub had been on the market for almost a year.

For more information on the Stonham Aspal campaign go to www.tenbells.co.uk

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