Renewed bid for community hub to host support services

A charity has set out its renewed plans to revive a 17th century Market Drayton inn as a 'community hub' connecting townspeople with dozens of support services.

The Corbet Arms in Market Drayton
The Corbet Arms in Market Drayton

The Corbet Arms Inn - which today hosts a busy Post Office on the ground floor but has otherwise fallen into disrepair - was once a bustling meeting place and drinking house, which hosted parties and performances of all kinds.

It ceased operating as a hotel years ago but the Market Drayton Community Enterprise (MDCE) wants to establish a base at the Corbet Arms from which residents can access support from groups like Samaritans.

Last month the upper floors of the hotel were affected by a fire, thought to have been caused by an electrical issue.

mergency services at the scene of the fire. Photo: Market Drayton Fire Station.

The MDCE, which evolved from the Market Drayton Seniors Enterprise, is a registered charity that hosts festivals of health and wellbeing to give organisations a regular chance to provide help to people in the town.

Some of the services that have stalls at the festivals of health and wellbeing include Samaritans, Sight Loss Shropshire and Armed Forces outreach support.

The MDCE has long hoped to set up its own permanent base somewhere in the town so that some of those organisations involved with the festivals can have a presence in the town year-round. Various avenues have been pursued unsuccessfully, and the Corbet Arms is their latest hope.

MDCE secretary Eric Davis said: "We do festivals of health and wellbeing, we've done them each year. We do three festivals a year. That was all we could do without a community hub, because we hold those in the Festival Drayton Centre, in the auditorium.

"We network with about 150 organisations.

"We want to provide an outreach facility so the organisations that didn't have a presence in Market Drayton could come, not just once a year – because if you're networking with 150 organisations and the capacity of the auditorium is about 30 you're allocated once a year as a maximum.

"For instance the Samaritans wanted to teach a couple of volunteers to listen on their behalf locally... but all organisations that we liaise with have some connection with the residents of Market Drayton.

"We can't provide an outreach facility unless we've got a community hub."

Former town councillor Steve Glover, who works with the MDCE, connected the charity with Maroof Shah, the owner of the Corbet Arms.

"Encouraging" discussions about the community hub plans were held between the two parties in 2019 but they have since broken down, said Mr Davis.

Mr Glover, who performed in Scouts shows at the Corbet Arms as a boy, said it was "heartbreaking" to see the current state of the building.

Meanwhile Mr Shah has acquired funds from the sale of another business to invest in the renovation of the hotel, said his daughter Saiqa Shah last week.

The Shah family has been approached for comment.

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