From the BBC website today Tuesday 15 May 2007....
Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly says the initiative will create "a new
era of civic pride" by giving local people more say in how local assets
are used. Councils will be asked to identify unused sites, such as old
hospitals, empty pubs and disused police stations. Councils queried
whether assets owned by taxpayers should be sold for £1.
The announcement comes after Chancellor Gordon Brown, the favourite to
succeed Tony Blair as prime minister, called for more community
involvement in local decision-making.
Ms Kelly, who will launch the initiative in Sheffield at a former
Victorian school transformed into a community centre, will announce a
£30m fund to support 20 pilot projects across the country. It follows
the publication of a report by Lewisham Council chief executive Barry
Quirk, which argues that handing public assets to communities leads to
better services and stronger communities. Local authorities already have
powers to sell or lease assets at prices below the market value, but the
Quirk Report found that these powers were not often used. Ms Kelly will
argue that "if you give local people more power, you'll get a better
result". The outcome is "better services, greater satisfaction with the
neighbourhood, and greater satisfaction with the local authority", she
Under the scheme, councils will be given the go-ahead to sell assets for
as little as £1 where it is clearly for the good of local people. The
Department for Communities and Local Government is to provide £400,000
to monitor the 20 pilot schemes. And a £30m Cabinet Office community
assets fund, managed by the Big Lottery Fund, will support the
buildings' new community owners. The government believes up to 1,500
community organisations could benefit from the initiative. A spokesman
for the Local Government Association said councils were "committed to
delivering an ever-better deal for the taxpayer". But he added:
"However, serious questions must be asked as to whether a prime piece of
real estate that is owned by taxpayers should be sold for as little as
£1. "Local authorities are willing to realise community assets, but only
when they can be sure that it will make a positive contribution to the
local area and provide value for money for taxpayers."
So, Seaton - £1 for the disused youth club and we sort it out to be used
until the developers build us our brand new community centre (well, you
can dream can’t you). Can we do it – of course.
Full article available from BBC