DRINKERS will be able to support their investments while propping up the bar, following a pioneering community takeover at an historic York pub.

Residents living near the Golden Ball, in Bishophill, have formed a co-operative and will next week launch a share-issue to buy a ten-year lease on the building, on the corner of Cromwell Road and Victor Street.

The current licensees Linda and Dave Foster have been looking to retire for some time and have struck a deal with the newly formed Golden Ball Co-operative. Locals were informed of the plans at a meeting in the pub last night, and shares will go on sale next week at £500 each. Similar ventures have been successful elsewhere in the country, particularly in rural areas, but this is the first in York.

The Golden Ball won the top award in The Press Pub Awards 2009/10, and is regarded as having the most complete inter-war lay-out of any pub in York, having been remodelled in 1929 by John Smith’s and left virtually unchanged since. It was given Grade II listed status two years ago.

Pete Kilbane, secretary of the new co-operative, said: “Bishophill already has a pretty vibrant community spirit and this will put the pub at the heart of it. It is a perfect pub in many respects and when people go for a pint in the Golden Ball, they will be supporting the local community.”

He said that as well as fulfilling the traditional pub role, the revitalised Golden Ball could also cater for local groups, such as mums and toddlers, or hold coffee mornings.

People can buy as many shares as they wish, but the co-operative will operate on a “one-member, one vote” basis, and at least 51 per cent of shares must be owned by people in York.

There will be a board of directors, a manager to run the bar, and meetings for all shareholders four times a year. Mr Kilbane said they hoped to pay dividends to shareholders, and said members could vote on how to use profits at the end of each year. Possible ideas include subsidising the cost of beer, carrying out improvements to the building, or organising events.

The co-operative hopes to build on the success of the community garden opposite the pub, developed two years ago in the grounds of the former St Mary’s Bishophill Senior Church, and may organise joint events using the garden and the pub.

Mr Kilbane said they may also work with other local organisations, such as a nearby bakery, and said the pub could hopefully sustain sports teams.

For more information on the cooperative, visit goldenballyork.co.uk