REPORT OF DIRECTOR OF TECHNICAL SERVICES

Community Asset Transfer

 

HEAD OF SERVICE & DESIGNATION.

P Lumley – Head of Property Services

DIRECTORATE

Technical Services

TELEPHONE NO.

01267 228175

AUTHOR & DESIGNATION

P Murray – Grounds Maintenance Manager

DIRECTORATE

Technical Services

TELEPHONE NO

01267 228174

The County Council is facing significant efficiency savings over the next 3 years and non statutory services currently being delivered may require a different delivery solution in light of these challenges. In order to achieve this the community asset transfer of parks, playgrounds and playing fields is fundamentally about giving local people and community groups greater control in the future delivery of these services within their area and their community.

It is also recognised that the way physical assets are managed can have a very positive impact on the long term strength of local communities and the third sector more generally. Through asset ownership, community based groups can grow and become more secure, gaining access to sources of additional funding that the Authority may not be able to access. In order to be successful, asset transfer requires a long term partnership approach between the authority and the community based groups that take over the management of an asset in order that these funding opportunities can be successfully accessed.

Ideally expressions of interest from local people and community groups should meet the following criteria:

It is also essential that where asset transfer of sporting facilities is concerned that the various sports governing bodies are fully aware of how the Authority proposes to tackle the issue of asset transfer as they will be a key component in the process. Their support and advice will prove to be essential if the asset to be transferred is to come to fruition.

In order to drive the process of asset transfer forward discussions with the governing bodies of the sports affected have taken place to share with them the issues around potential funding problems and benefits that may accrue from the transfer of the asset. In this way the governing body can advise the organisation on what steps are required and what information it needs to prepare for the challenges faced by the individual groups.

Initial meetings have been held with a number of interested parties following the increase sporting charges set out by the County Council last financial year. The meetings have been led by local members and have included representations from the local sporting fraternity and community councillors. It is essential that all parties currently using the facilities are engaged at this early stage to ensure that a clear and transparent sharing of issues is undertaken. Details of how the facility is currently managed and run will be discussed together with an outline of what present and future liabilities may accompany the site. An indication of all maintenance costs associated with the site will also be provided.

The organisation must then decide whether it wishes to proceed along the route of asset transfer. It should be noted that only a holistic approach should be followed rather than a fragmented approach. This will ensure that all aspects of the site are covered in one document rather than a number of document`s making the site easier to manage. As an example this would result in a whole Park being transferred to a properly structured locally based organisation.

A mutually agreed time scale is suggested for the discussion surrounding the transfer to take place however, every application will be different as some sites will be more complex than others. Where a formal commitment is received from the organisation to proceed along the asset transfer route it has been recommended that there should be a freeze in charges levied whilst discussions are ongoing. Should an agreement not be reached within this time scale then the charges applicable within that particular year will be implemented immediately for the use of the facility. During this period the authority will also provide all the necessary support and advice required on the proposed setting up of the organisation.

Should the organisation wish to proceed with asset transfer then it is proposed to implement the following process with Committee`s approval:-

Should the foregoing process be adopted then this process can be implemented and it is suggested that quarterly meetings be arranged during each financial year formalising the process for all parties.