Agenda item

Community Asset Transfer Policy

Decision:

RESOLVED:

 

KEY DECISION

 

That the Executive approved the Community Asset Transfer Policy at Appendix A to the report

 

The reasons for the recommendation are:

 

·         The policy supports good governance in relation to the Councils’ obligations to comply with the legislation that govern land transfers.

 

·         The policy and process support the evaluation of community asset transfer enquires and provide a guide to community organisations.

 

·         Adopting the policy provides for a consistent and transparent approach to be administered which reduces the risks associated with asset transfers.

 

·         Adopting the policy supports the Councils Corporate Plan.

 

 

Alternative Options Considered:

 

·         The Council could choose not to adopt the proposed policy and manage each request as it is received, however this could lead to inconsistencies in the approach to community asset transfers.

 

·         The Council could adopt an approach to not support community asset transfers to avoid the risks detailed in the policy and retain direct control of assets, however this would limit the benefits that can be achieved from community delivery. 

Minutes:

Prior to the introduction of this item, The Chair noted that following discussions with the Council’s Monitoring Officer, an amendment would be made to paragraph 5.3 (g) of the Community Asset Transfer Policy to seek approval of recommended applications from The Leader rather than the Executive Member for Highways, Travel and Assets as stated in the draft before members.

 

Cllr Graham Lawman, Executive Member for Highways, Travel and Assets then introduced the report that sought Executive approval of the Community Asset Transfer Policy.

 

Cllr Lawman noted that the Community Asset Transfer Scheme arose from the 2011 Localism Act and required harmonisation following the move to unitary status. The policy before members provided a transparent and consistent framework for considering Council assets, with guidance provided to organisations.

 

The scheme would allow the Council to pass control of one of its assets to a community group, Town or Parish or formalised charity with secured community benefits. It was heard that communities were often better placed to understand local service user needs and could often provide services in an efficient and flexible way, with ownership supporting financial sustainability of a group. The Council could also benefit from improved social outcomes as well as reducing building management responsibility and operating costs.

 

The meeting heard that transfers were not without risks, with the Council needing to ensure that community outputs continue to be delivered and did not disadvantage individual parts of the community through control by another. In addition, the controlling organisation required the capacity to manage the asset sustainably and that there be no detriment to the Council though loss of control of asset, local service delivery or potential ongoing financial liability.

 

It was noted that each application would be considered on its own merits with sufficient due diligence to consider risks and suitable mitigation. A number of factors would be used in evaluation including:

 

·         Social

·         Economic

·         Environmental

·         Governance

·         Financial standing

·         Corporate plan relevance

·         Ward councillor consultation

 

Once evaluations had been undertaken, a recommendation to proceed or not would be made, along with terms to be applied to the transfer.Transfer options would range from a short licence arrangement with continued Council involvement in building management, through long leases to freehold transfer for Town and Parish Councils only. 

 

It was understood that the Council still had a best value duty to transfer at market value, acknowledging restrictions and proposed use. Undervalue transfers would be considered where clear and sustained social, economic, or environmental benefits existed, though an independent valuation may be required.

 

Cllrs Harrison, Pentland and Howes spoke in favour of the proposals with involvement of the Executive Advisory Panels noted.

 

 

RESOLVED:

 

KEY DECISION

 

That the Executive approved the Community Asset Transfer Policy at Appendix A to the report

 

The reasons for the recommendation are:

 

·         The policy supports good governance in relation to the Councils’ obligations to comply with the legislation that govern land transfers.

 

·         The policy and process support the evaluation of community asset transfer enquires and provide a guide to community organisations.

 

·         Adopting the policy provides for a consistent and transparent approach to be administered which reduces the risks associated with asset transfers.

 

·         Adopting the policy supports the Councils Corporate Plan.

 

 

Alternative Options Considered:

 

·         The Council could choose not to adopt the proposed policy and manage each request as it is received, however this could lead to inconsistencies in the approach to community asset transfers.

 

·         The Council could adopt an approach to not support community asset transfers to avoid the risks detailed in the policy and retain direct control of assets, however this would limit the benefits that can be achieved from community delivery. 

Supporting documents: