Categories: General Date: Jun 23, 2011 Title: Surrey County Council Community Asset Transfer Policy
Surrey County Council is making it easier for voluntary organisations to take over community buildings to benefit neighbourhoods.
We have simplified the application process to encourage groups interested in running buildings for community use to come forward. A meeting of the Cabinet in November 2010 agreed guidelines to be used when organisations apply to own or lease council buildings that are vacant or not used enough. Properties already used by voluntary organisations on a peppercorn or rent-free basis have been a success. Surrey Community Action (SCA) took responsibility for the Astolat building in Merrow, near Guildford, on a long rent-free lease in 2008. Eight organisations now use the building for a range of well-attended activities, prompting SCA to look to replicate the initiative in other parts of the county. Jean Roberts-Jones, Chief Executive of SCA, said: “It gives us a lot of freedom. We can open up the building to community groups. We have a band practising one night, a faith group meeting another and training sessions in the evenings because we set the rules. “We have also been able to access other sources of funding to get a loop system installed – a new automatic front door which has improved accessibility – and the county council has been able to save money on managing the building and routine maintenance, which we now do. It’s a win-win agreement.” The Hale Bungalow in Sandy Hill, Farnham, reopened in May after being rebuilt. It is owned by the county council but is leased long-term at a nominal rent to a charitable trust to provide better facilities for adult learning and social events and activities. Tim Hall, Cabinet Member for Change and Efficiency, said: “Community buildings are the hub of every neighbourhood and play a key role in supporting local life. If they thrive, we all thrive. It's important we help residents to help themselves and their communities.” Organisations applying for an asset transfer will have to draw up a business case, including details of the community benefits. Each application will go through an assessment by council staff and a representative from the voluntary sector.
Contact Keith Barker on 0208 541 9744 email@example.com for more
information about community asset transfers, and how to apply. .