Councillors can protect vital community spaces by putting land and buildings into community hands

Today (Wednesday, 21st March) sees the launch of a new guide for councillors to help them successfully transfer vital assets to communities, so they are preserved and run by local people.

The guide, launched by Locality, the national network supporting community organisations, and Power to Change, the independent trust supporting community businesses in England, includes essential steps that councillors can take to make Community Asset Transfer (CAT) a success for their communities.  It follows a recent poll carried out by YouGov, commissioned by Locality, which found that 71% of people feel they have not much or no control over the important decisions that affect their neighbourhood and local community.

Tony Armstrong, Chief Executive of Locality said:

“Councils are facing enormous financial pressures – and we know that every penny counts when it comes to raising money. But while flogging off our community assets might generate income in the short term, once these spaces are lost – they are lost forever.”

Community asset transfer is a proven route for protecting cherished local spaces, leveraging community capacity and local enterprise to transform local amenities and revitalise the local economy. It is about putting genuine power in the hands of communities, with citizens and the council working together to achieve the best possible outcomes for their places.

Tony Armstrong

Chief Executive of Locality

Vidhya Alakeson, Chief Executive of Power to Change said:

“Council-owned land, buildings and green spaces are the beating heart of community life. Community centres, libraries, swimming pools and town halls are the places where local people come together as communities, meet their neighbours and take their children.

“Assets like the Meltham Carlile Institute, which was transferred to community ownership in 2013, now houses the council’s offices, a library and a gym, and Bramley Baths a Grade II bath house that the council couldn’t afford to run is now a community owned pool which attracts over 2000 people a week. Some councils have shown great vision in transferring assets successfully but many more need to follow suit.”

Our research has found that there are around £7 billion worth of assets that could be transferred from the council and their communities, and run as community businesses, recycling profits into the local economy. This guide will make it even easier for councillors to unlock that potential.

Vidhya Alakeson

Chief Executive of Power to Change

Under community ownership, local assets can thrive. Community owners are also often able to leverage additional funding, as well as volunteer capacity, that they public sector cannot access. Community-owned buildings can also support a network of local enterprises, by providing low-rents to tenant organisations and can lead to more training and job opportunities for local people.

We are calling on councillors to download our guide and use it to consider how community asset transfer could work in their areas, working in close partnership with local people to harness the huge ‘power of community’ that exists in our neighbourhoods.

 

For additional information or to request interviews please contact:

Tara Anderson, Head of Engagement, 07515 062 846 tara.anderson@locality.org.uk

 

Notes to Editors

About Locality

Locality supports local community organisations to be strong and successful, so they can unlock the power in their local community to build a fairer society. Locality provides its network of over 550 members with hands-on support, peer-learning, tools and resources, and uses evidence from members to influence policy makers, funders and other decision makers.

In 2015/16 Locality delivered the Community Ownership and Management of Assets (COMA) programme on behalf of the DCLG. This supported 52 partnerships between local public bodies (predominantly local authorities) and community groups (including parish councils) to develop multiple asset transfer or single, more complex and ground-breaking, asset projects.

locality.org.uk

mycommunity.org.uk

 

About Power to Change

 Power to Change is an independent trust, whose funding is used to strengthen community businesses across England. We received our endowment from Big Lottery Fund in 2015. At a time when many parts of the UK face cuts, neglect and social problems, we are helping local people come together to take control, and make sure their local areas survive and stay vibrant. www.powertochange.org.uk/ @peoplesbiz

 

About the Big Lottery Fund:

The Big Lottery Fund is the largest funder of community activity in the UK. It puts people in the lead to improve their lives and communities, often through small, local projects.

It is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Every year it invests over £650 million and awards around 12,000 grants across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes.

Since June 2004 it has awarded over £9 billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people. Since the National Lottery began in 1994, £34 billion has been raised and more than 450,000 grants awarded.