Councillors are set to unveil a new way of dealing with council-owned buildings occupied by community groups next week.
It is widely recognised that the management of assets by community and voluntary groups has the ability to bring benefits to the council, the city and local residents. Until now the council has not had a formal policy to cover such arrangements, which has led to an inconsistent approach. A new Community Asset Policy proposal serves to fill that gap, will provide clarity of approach and transparency and support the council’s aims of ensuring asset values are maintained, community assets are fully utilised and enable, where appropriate, unsuitable assets to be bought forward for disposal.
The new policy sets out how the council intends to deal with and manage requests for Community Asset Transfer. It sets out criteria for eligibility and what an organisation would need to demonstrate to be considered for taking on board responsibility for the building. Community asset transfer usually involves transfer at less than market value, the level of subsidy being determined by the social, economic and environmental benefits generated by the transfer.
The aim is to support the voluntary sector which is often best placed to host community facilities and respond to the needs and opportunities of local communities. Before asset transfer is considered as an option, the council will weigh up the options as to whether its financial and strategic objectives could be better achieved through the sale of buildings to provide income for council building projects or services.
A consultation on the proposed new approach revealed general support from community partners such as NCVS and the Renewal Trust.
City Council Leader, Cllr David Mellen, said: “The arrangements we have in place for managing our portfolio of community assets is something we are looking at as part of our ongoing transformation programme, which aims to bring financial efficiencies and improve the way the council operates.
“The new Community Asset policy sets out proposals for how we will do this better and the options for transferring assets to community-based organisations where appropriate, with the aim of supporting the voluntary sector while delivering best value for local taxpayers.”
The policy is due to be discussed at a meeting of the council’s Executive Board next Tuesday (21 February).