SOMERSET is one of the top hotspots in the country for people taking ownership of key local assets, according to figures from Co-operatives UK.

Around 1,200 people in the area have invested in nine community share schemes, raising a total of £400,000, placing it sixth in the national league table.

Community share scheme initiatives in our county include: • The Red Brick Building community arts centre – 298 people have raised £123,000 for an arts and small business space in Langport; •Taunton-based Lightweight Community Transport, which has raised £77,000 from 60 people in a bid to bring an ecological and simple train service to the area; •Brendon Energy, of Wiveliscombe, which raised £24,000 from 50 people to develop a range of renewable energy projects.

Gareth Hoskins, chief executive of Brendon Energy, said: “A group of us got together because we wanted to do something about climate change.

“We could either wait for big business to come along and help themselves to our natural energy resources, or we could roll our sleeves up and do it ourselves.

“That way, we’re masters of our own destiny, and can pay surplus revenue to local community projects.

“We’ve been delighted with the response from the community - we’re well into our second share offer now and have nearly 70 members.”

Other community share ventures mentioned in the report are Brompton Regis Village Shop and Oake and District Community Shop, while the County Gazette reported last week how villagers in Drayton are trying to sell 1,000 £350 shares to buy their local pub.

The boom in community shares in Somerset is part of a nationwide trend - in the last five years almost 40,000 local people have invested nearly £40million in more than 200 share issues across the country.