VILLAGERS are hoping to raise their glasses this Christmas as they strive to launch their community pub.

The White Lion in Broadwindsor is set to reopen with the village's residents at the helm.

The Palmers pub closed in the summer and since then there have been negotiations with regard to the community taking it over.

A steering group was put together consisting of a number of villagers with expertise in running pubs and community venues, along with a solicitor and some parish councillors.

The group has been in talks with Palmers in recent months after a survey revealed 95 per cent of respondents were in favour of the White Lion being run as a community pub.

There is currently a 'principle agreement' in place between the steering group and Palmers, with a contract expected in the near future.

Parish councillor David Leader is leading the project.

He said: "It's exciting and it is going very well. A lot of people are investing a lot of time and effort in trying to make this happen and there's a lot to be encouraged by.

"Things have moved on positively in terms of discussions - we're not there yet but we have draft legal agreements which are being worked on.

"Whilst there is not currently a contract there are principle agreements in place with Palmers but there are several things which need to be ironed out.

"In an ideal world we would like to be open for Christmas. There are a number of factors which could delay that date but that is what we are aiming for."

The next part of the plan will be to raise the funds needed to cover liabilities, refurbishment and the initial purchase of stock. The steering group estimates around £30,000 will need to be raised.

One of the ways the group hopes to achieve this is through a community share issue, in which members of the community can buy into the project in exchange for voting rights.

In order to go through with this, the pub needs to be incorporated as a not-for-profit business, which the group are hoping to go through this month. At this point the group will be out and about in the village to drum up support.

In the meantime, members of the steering group have started up 'the Comrades' Arms', a makeshift pub run out of the Broadwindsor Village Hall.

Mr Leader said: "The Comrades' Arms has been opened as a temporary measure so that there is an open pub in the village. It is also a way which we can raise funds and a smaller project for the steering group to prepare them for the running of the pub.

Mr Leader added that there are a number of fundraising activities being planned for the coming weeks.