Transfer of Peterborough community '˜assets' from council ownership nearing completion

The plan to transfer 47 Peterborough City Council owned community '˜assets' is nearing completion.

Sunday, 18th November 2018, 5:00 am
Cllr Mohammed Jamil

The transfer process should be 67 per cent complete by the end of March 2019, Cate Harding, council community capacity manager told members of the Adults & Communities Scrutiny Committee meeting.

She said: “Completion reflects either a freehold transfer or a lease in place with no ongoing repairs and maintenance responsibilities for the council within the term of the lease.

“Some of these community centres have been managed by the same committee for decades, with superb governance in place. They often know more about a building owned by the council than we do.

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“The only real difference for them is they will be responsible for repairs and maintenance in future, rather than the council bearing that cost.”

Cllr Mohammed Jamil said: “I am concerned that in transferring leases to the private sector we are setting some of these associations up for a fall.”

But Ms Harding disagreed: “In most cases they have a succession plan ready, which was an important part of the negotiations undertaken by the council, and intensive risk assessment on most of the organisations has also been done.”

Sarah Ferguson, assistant director of housing, communities and youth, said: “The purpose of this project was to transfer what have always been seen as community assets into the hands of the community who run them so that they can develop and benefit from them better.

“There will now be a transition period when we monitor the progress of each of the organisations to see how they cope with the management responsibilities that are part of the programme.”

Cllr Sam Hemraj wanted to know what would happen if a community organisation failed, asking: “Will the council then be responsible for that property again, and what funding is in place to cover such an eventuality?”

But Ms Ferguson reassured her, saying: “While I agree that it is possible, if a group came to the council and said they couldn’t cope, we would put the facility up for tender. There are dozens of enquiries about community spaces, so there is no possibility of it not being taken over by another group.”

The final stages of the transfer include a forecast of property revenue to be completed by December 21, a list of properties where the council will retain corporate asset management responsibilities, and the development of an information management system to record and monitor the agreements for each centre by the end of March 2019.

Robert Alexander, Local Democracy Reporting Service.