Monday, 11 November 2013

First step in funding success!

Last week we heard we'd been successful in our first funding application! Nicky Dykes, Councillor for Bromley Town, has helped us over the past few months with an application to the Community Fund, which is designed to help community groups like BACI grow their groups and provide financial assistance for things like publicity, room hire and other administrative costs. We were awarded nearly £3,000 and we are now looking forward to advancing with our plans.

So much thanks again for the continued support we've been receiving for the project, we really are proud to be working towards something we think will have a really positive impact for the people of Bromley. The press release is below :)

Sunday, 27 October 2013

We emailed David Bowie...

If you've lived in the Bromley borough for more than about 5 minutes there's no way you haven't been told that you're living in David Bowie's hometown. Bowie was raised here during the 1950s and continued to live in Beckenham and Bromley during the '60s and '70s, so apart from Bob Crier from The Bill and H G Wells he has to be up there with Bromley's most famous residents.

In 1969 Bowie set up The Arts Lab, a varied arts and music venue in Beckenham with friend and journalist Mary Finnigan. Every Sunday The Three Tuns, now Zizzi's, turned into a celebration of local arts and music and by its fourth week it had become so popular that it expanded out into the conservatory and garden. Bowie explained the project in an interview with Melody Maker in 1969: "I run an arts lab which is my chief occupation. It's in Beckenham and I think it's the best in the country. There isn't one pseud involved. All the people are real - like labourers or bank clerks. It started out as a folk club, arts labs generally have such a bad reputation as pseud places but there's a lot of talent in the green belt and there is a load of tripe in Drury Lane. I think the arts lab movement is extremely important and should take over from the youth club concept as a social service. We've got a few greasers who come and a few skinheads who are just as enthusiastic. We started our lab a few months ago with poets and artists who just came along. It's got bigger and bigger and now we have our own light show and sculptures, et cetera. And I never knew there were so many sitar players in Beckenham."

Friday, 13 September 2013

Public meeting 4th September round up

We had another great turn out for our public meeting held in the Council Chamber at the Bromley Civic Centre last week. Peter Martin, Chairman of BACI, presented on the latest developments and we took a lot of questions and opinions from the floor. It was a lively meeting with some great feedback and lots to take away and action! Thanks to everyone who attended. Below is the presentation and underneath that is a quick round up of the key points discussed. As always please don't hesitate to get in touch with any thoughts and ideas, any offers of help also always greatly received! 
Amanda Hone, BACI Secretary (

Friday, 2 August 2013

Next open meeting - 4th of September!

We are holding another open meeting for all you lovely Bromley people on the 4th of September at 7pm in the Council Chamber at Bromley Civic Centre, so do come along to find out more and hear the latest developments on the project. We have made a lot of headway in recent months, including formally constituting as a community group and fostering the support of the council (including MP Bob Neill, pictured with us on the left), as well as holding further talks with the agents of British Land Corporation and Spirit Group (the land and lease holders).

We continue with our efforts to save the Royal Bell and we want to see as many interested people at the meeting as possible, there was a fantastic turnout for the last meeting in the library and we hope this time there will be even more people to share news with. Please do help us spread the word and don't hesitate to get in touch if you'd like to, my email is

Saturday, 22 June 2013

We're a formally constituted community group!

For the past 9 months we have been holding meetings, rallying support, liaising with huge organisations and working hard to devise the best ways to save the Royal Bell from a fate of rotting away slowly in the town centre. In order to get formal recognition though we needed to get a proper constitution written and go through the channels that allow us to access funds and have an official status. We were fortunate enough to be joined at our inaugural meeting in the Barrel and Horn pub by a band of great supporters; John Street, Alan Hughes, Nigel Moriss, Jo Hone and Geraldine Rolfe, as well as me (Amanda Hone and Peter Martin) last week where minutes were taken (by John, very much appreciated) and committee members elected. It was a great meeting with all of us really excited about ways we can move forward with the project.

We are very happy to be able to recruit a treasurer, Geraldine Rolfe, with whom we made a trip to the bank this morning to open a bank account. It might not sound that exciting but for us it's a really significant step as this will allow us to apply for funds so we can get advice and hire professionals to help with this complex project in the future.

We have some important meetings lined up in the next few weeks with people we hope we can work together with to breath some much needed life back into the Royal Bell.

More updates as they happen, but in the mean time thanks for reading and for your continued support :)

Friday, 31 May 2013

A proposal

BACI's Chairman and ex-planner at Bromley Council, Peter Martin has put together a proposal which we will be presenting to Councillors and also to British Land Corporation (the owners of the Royal Bell). We will still go ahead with starting the ball rolling on this avenue as nothing is guaranteed with Antic. If they didn't get the pub the building still needs a way out of its gridlocked situation which allows it to continue rotting in the centre of Bromley.

So here is it, enjoy :) ....

Thanks again News Shoppper :)

The News Shopper ran another piece this week on the news that the pub company Antic are trying to procure the lease for the Royal Bell. We fully support this bid and would love to work with the pub company who have over 40 great pubs all around London, if their bid was successful. There is a fantastic Heritage Lottery Fund which has just opened for applications called the Heritage Enterprise Grant and is aimed completely at projects and community groups like ours. Take a look at the information here (and definitely watch the little video at the end of the page). We would so love to be able to utilise this fantastic fund for preserving and celebrating our own piece of Bromley heritage. Fingers crossed everyone please!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Antic Pubs make a bid for the Royal Bell

Last week I got news that Antic Pubs had put in a bid for the Royal Bell. This means (as far as I can work out!) that they have bid for the sub lease of the property from the current leaseholders Spirit Group. Things move slowly but we are told that negotiations are underway and there is hope they will procure the sub lease soon. As with every other deal though this might fall through and despite being a great pub company who have a reputation for restoring and breathing life back into old pubs there might just be too many problems with taking on the delapidated Royal Bell.

I will keep you all posted here and on the Facebook page so keep your fingers crossed that it goes through. We'd love to work with the new pub company if they get the lease and we are in contact with them, I have proposed a way they could team up with us to qualify for funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund so I really hope they will seriously consider it.

Fingers crossed people! :)

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Join the working group!

After the meeting in the library last month we had some fantastic offers of help from interested people, all wanting to help push forward this very complex project. If you didn't manage to make it along to the meeting or if you've just found out about the project and would like to get involved then we are holding a meeting in the Barrel and Horn pub on High Street North in Bromley on the 23rd of April at 7pm.

It doesn't matter what your background or whether you think you have the skills to help, if you want to, you can! We're all new to this and all you need is the passion to breath life back into the Royal Bell Hotel and the desire to help help turn it into a fantastic pub, community hub and arts centre. No-one's saying it'll be easy but working together with like-minded Bromley people will give this project its best chance of success, so please do come along if you think you can help.

Do contact me if you have questions,, or just turn up, we can't wait to meet others who want to help with this important venture :)

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Open Meeting of 28 03 13 - Presentation and Debrief

The Bromley Arts and Community Initiative open meeting in the library on the 28th of March in Bromley Central Library was a great success, with lively debate, ideas and support for this important project. It was fantastic to see so many people making the effort to come and see what it's all about, with too many to mention offering their support after the meeting, thank you all so much. I had plenty of apologies from those not being able to attend the meeting too which was even more heartening and shows how interested the people of Bromley are in our initiative.

Below I have embedded the presentation with a few notes on developments, although we progress daily with new things happening so will of course keep you updated here and on the Facebook page

Below the presentation I have included the meeting minutes too which include all the questions put to Peter and I on the night. If you have any additions or have questions of your own please don't hesitate to email me ( and we'll answer them the best we can.

As ever if you're interested in joining a working party to help procure the Royal Bell and turn it into a community pub and arts space, or if you're interested in our project moving a pop up art gallery (in the form of a shipping container!) around the borough then please do get in touch.

Thanks so much for all the support people, this is just the beginning but dear me this is going to be exciting...

The meeting minutes are detailed below:

Bromley Arts and Community Initiative Open Meeting
Bromley Central Library 28th March 2013

Chair – Peter Martin (PM)
Secretary – Amanda Hone (AH)
Attendees numbered 87

1. Introductions and purpose of meeting
2. BACI Vision (Amanda Hone)
3. What’s been done so far and future actions (Peter Martin)
4. Questions
5. Join up!

1.       Peter Martin introduced himself and the aims of the meeting. As retired planner at Bromley Council PM was concerned about the continued lack of occupancy at the Royal Bell and its state of disrepair. He also wanted to get his teeth stuck into a project after retiring! The purpose of the meeting was to update people on developments and to promote sign up to the cause.
2.       AH introduced herself as a Bromley girl born and raised always saddened by the lack of a creative, accessible and exciting arts scene in the town. After the restaurant she used to run (Ed’s Woodfire Grill on East Street) was sold she decided to try to breathe life back into Bromley, and especially Bromley North Village, by investigating the feasibility of taking on the dilapidated Royal Bell Hotel to turn it into a community owned pub and arts space. After a lot of research and being heartened by the growing number of pubs being bought and rejuvenated by their communities around Britain she began this mission.
The presentation outlining the Bromley Arts and Community Initiatives aims should be found along with these meeting minutes, but if not please go to
3.       PM detailed some of the progress BACI had made, including winning initial support from the Plunkett Foundation (a charity set up to help communities buy buildings listed as “community value assets”), headway made with the council (including their support and initial steps to contact the lease holders about the state of the building), meetings with the Colliers International (agents between British Land and Spirit Group) and talks with potential leasers of the space, including a pub company and a Bromley Little Theatre.
4.       Questions were opened up to the floor and are detailed below:
-          Lewisham Town Hall was mentioned as a building that was left in a terrible state of disrepair for some time and was eventually knocked down and the site built on. This example differs a little to the Royal Bell because it was council owned, however PM and AH agreed that this is exactly what they were trying to avoid with the Royal Bell.
-          Had the market area behind Bromley North Station been considered as a potential for setting up a community space? PM and AH stressed that in the early stages of this project the focus would be on the Royal Bell and although there would be potential for taking on another building/site in Bromley it wouldn’t be until all avenues had been exhausted with the Royal Bell.
-          The Studio in Beckenham was suggested as a similar example of what BACI want to bring to Bromley but it was pointed out that the Studio closed down due to rising costs and significant losses. PM and AH agreed that the studio had an eclectic mix of arts based activities going on but that the building and running were Bromley Council’s responsibility. PM and AH want to be clear that this will be a project independent of the council with no money being sort to achieve their goals. With a strong business plan and a well-managed arts programme with a complementary commercial arm there is no reason why the Initiative should not make money. AH indicated various arts centres and pubs with performance and arts spaces co-existing perfectly and popularity, even in tough economic climes, is not dwindling.
-          It was asked whether BACI’s focus would be only on the Royal Bell and if it was impossible to take on, whether to change the constitution to encompass a broader remit to include other options. AH explained that BACI had been advised by the Plunkett Foundation to be as focussed and specific as possible in our constitution early on, this will show potential funders and stakeholders that we mean business with the Royal Bell and give us more credibility with the land owners and lease holders too. AH also explained that it would be easy to reconstitute at a later stage if getting the Royal Bell proved impossible to take on.
-          Various suggestions of local arts centres and theatres were offered, including one in Leith and at Eltham College. AH also told the group about a recent visit to The Forum in Norwich and PM outlined successful pub/theatres in London, e.g. The Hen and Chickens.
-          The pictures of the Royal Bell caused the most consternation among the audience and it was asked whether there was potential for dry rot in the building. PM said that locl firm Pellings had advised us that it was a strong possibility given that the water ingress had been going on for so long with no efforts had been made to rectify the problem.
-          The issue was raised concerning the rates being paid while the building was empty and PM explained that because the Royal Bell is Grade II listed the leaseholders were paying no rates to the council at all, losing them millions of pounds in potential rates revenue.
-          The question of whether the 1st floor and the stables could be accessible separately other than access through the ground floor was raised. AH said that access to the stables is completely separate but that the 1st floor was not. If the only option was to take on the 1st floor and stables while a sub-leaser went it on the ground floor a separate access would need to be arranged.
-          Funding and revenue streams were discussed and a suggestion was made to include a strong educational element to gain grants and funding. AH agreed that this would be a strong component of any activities going on at the Royal Bell and outlined the plans for the stables to be a place where this could happen with workshop and dedicated education space built in.
-          The question was asked what would happen if the ground floor commercial venture was to go bust, either if BACI owned the building or if it was being sub-leased from Spirit. AH stressed that there would be strong legal covenants that covered these eventualities and that BACI would never take on the running of the pub, it would always go to a pub company with legal liabilities.
-          Figures of how much was being asked for the building and what the leasers were currently paying was asked. PM decided it was better not to go into specific details as the figures at the moment were so inflated and not reflective of reality that it was probably better not to divulge them.
-          It was asked whether BACI could raise any funds through Bromley Councils Bromley North Development Scheme and projected Action Plan for the town if BACI were helping to improve and regenerate the area. PM and AH explained that the council were unlikely to contribute any funds and keeping the project separate from them was very important too. However there might be talks about potential of match funding if needed in the future for grants such as a Heritage Lottery Grant, but it is unlikely that they would make applying for funds from central government a priority.
-          It was asked how much BACI would be looking at to raise if they bought the building from community shares. AH made it clear that this wouldn’t be known until we knew how much we could buy the building for and how much money we would be receiving in grants. Successful Community Land Trusts have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to buy community value assets all over Britain though and fundraising events for these local causes have proved big money earners too.
-          AH stressed the importance of buying the building over leasing it if possible, with the legacy of the project being far greater and more substantial than a lease. This project is all about giving the people of Bromley something they can be proud of and something they have had a hand in achieving, it might be expensive and it might take a long time but having a trust that holds the building for Bromley community to use and enjoy forever would be priceless.
-          It was asked whether the legal structure of BACI had been agreed and whether people signing these support forms would have personal liability if this Initiative was to fail. PM and AH pointed out that the constitution clearly stated that we are a community looking to investigate the feasibility of procuring the Royal Bell as a community pub and arts space, although we will set up a bank account to become formally recognised the only money received into that bank account will be from funders supporting a feasibility study, no money from the public is being asked for until we have got far beyond where we are now.

5.       Everyone was encouraged to join up and support the cause by filling out the forms on their seats and handing them in. If you know people who want to sign up too please email Amanda for an electronic form.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Next open meeting!

Sorry for the long delay ladies and gents, we've been very busy but have now got a date fixed for the next meeting. So, you are cordially invited to attend on Thursday the 28th of March at 7pm in the Large Hall (4th floor) in the Bromley Central Library.

We do a presentation and get everyone up to speed on news and developments. We welcome questions and ate also looking to form a small working party after the meeting. Whether you want to join a working party or not the meeting is open to anyone who is even a little bit interested in arts, community and Bromley centric things.

We look forward to seeing you :)

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Local papers feature the fight for the Royal Bell...

More media coverage this week has helped get our campaign to take on the Royal Bell and turn it into an arts and community hub out there to the great and good of Bromley, and our supporter group continues to swell (we now stand at over 400, which is absolutely fantastic, big thanks to you all). We're getting stronger by the day and your support is integral to the success of this complex, often daunting but deep-down-I-know-its-all-going-to-be-totally-amazing-and-worth-it project.

If you'd like to read the articles they can be found here:

The Bromley Times

The News Shopper

As always I welcome questions, comments, suggestions and especially offers of help! My email is so please don't hesitate to drop me a line, do also email if you'd like to be added to the mailing list which will keep you up to date on latest news and opportunities to get involved. We're holding a big open meeting in the next few weeks for the benefit of new members so we'll get everyone up to speed on the latest developments and give you the opportunity to really get involved if you want to.

Until the next post you brilliant Bromley bunch, over and out... :)

Monday, 4 February 2013

Have you liked our Facebook page?

Hi all!

Just wanted to remind people about our Facebook page It's where I post the latest news, info and meeting dates etc. and "liking" the page will wing everything straight to your Facebook newsfeed without you having to remember to check the blog.

We are organising an open meeting to fill everyone in on what's been happening recently and to get ideas on what our next moves can be, so please watch this space, like the Facebook page and email me to have your name added to my growing mailing list

Viva la Bromley Community Revolution!


Tuesday, 1 January 2013

How you can help, become a supporter

Recently the government have been trying to make it easier for communities to get involved in their local affairs and have recognised the need to engage people in what goes on in their villages, towns and cities. The new bill which aims to give communities more power and say in local matters is called the Localism Act and it ties into David Cameron's idea for for a Big Society. Despite being a government document its really interesting and worth a read (not boring I promise!), and for people who feel jaded by workings of government and red tape in local councils it might even restore your faith in them a little bit for the future ;)

One of the elements of the bill is the Community Right to Bid scheme, which allows community groups to apply to their local council and have a building in their local area added to a list called an "Assets of Community Value" list. This means that when the building gets sold the community group who made the application get 6 months to put a bid together to buy it. The Community Right to Bid does not guarantee that the community group will necessarily be able to take on the building but it does help groups like ours get a head start against big companies with money to buy big assets like pubs.

I am in the process of applying to Bromley council to get the Royal Bell added to their list of Assets of Community Value and (thankfully!) we don't need to be a fully fledged organisation with proper legal status to do it. However, we do need to prove we have at least 21 people in the local community (defined as those living in the borough of Bromley or in a neighbouring borough) who want to see the building taken on for the community by the community, and to carry out the aims as defined by the community groups goals.

We have received a huge amount of support for the Bromley Arts and Community Initiative already but Bromley Council formally need names and full address with contact details to be counted as a supporter. If you'd like to back the project (you won't have to do anything other than have your name added to the list) then please send me your name, address and contact details (email or phone number is fine). Just email or visit the Facebook page and send a direct message that way.

Every name counts and the more people we get on board the better case we'll be able to give to the big decision makers, so every single person counts. Thank you very much people, I'll