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Taking ownership of a council building and/or the running of a service

During public consultation on the Property Strategy the council agreed to explore proposals by community groups and other organisations to take on responsibility for running some of the affected buildings and services.

Thank you to everyone who submitted an expression of interest and subsequent business case regarding the possibility of taking on responsibility for a building and/or service.

The business cases we received within the initial deadline of 12 August 2016 were initially assessed and the resulting recommendations were considered at our cabinet meeting on 6 October.

In summary:

  • 13 proposals were considered to be broadly acceptable subject to negotiation and clarification of issues
  • 20 bids required more details to be provided before a clear recommendation could be made
  • 16 proposals were not considered to be acceptable.

Two further amendments were also agreed. The bids for Heysham Children's and Young People's Centre (Heysham Youth and Community) and Great Harwood Young People's Service (Hyndburn Leisure Trust) have been moved from not being considered to be acceptable to requiring more details to be provided before a clear recommendation can be made. This is because they have been confirmed as charitable bodies and qualify as appropriate community organisations.

Chorley Council has agreed to fund the costs for Adlington library and children's centre, Coppull library and Eccleston library so that they can continue to provide a full service until March 2018. Chorley Council is working with local community groups to work out how the services can be provided beyond April 2018.

See the Cabinet papers to find out more about the interest we have received so far.

We extended the deadline to 31 October 2016 to allow for further expressions of interest. Those who made submissions were invited to provide a more detailed business case by the end of November.

Unfortunately we have been unable to accept any new expressions of interest on buildings where we had already received a business case by the original deadline of 14 August.

Decisions made in principle

On 7 December 2016 the deputy leader of the county council made a number of decisions about proposals from community organisations to take on ownership of buildings which the county council no longer needs.

The cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services has also agreed on 8 December 2016 proposals for support to establish independent community-run libraries, which will complement the statutory service which the county council provides.

The decisions are:

  • Crawshawbooth Library and Community Centre will be transferred to Crawshawbooth Community Association to provide an independent community library, including providing children's books, adults' large print books and a book exchange. The Association will also continue to operate the building as a centre for community-based activities, including a pre-school and out-of-school club.
  • Trawden Library and Children's Centre will be transferred to Trustees of Trawden Forest Community Centre to provide a range of services and facilities within the village including an independent community library, a volunteer-led community co-operative shop and a post office. The proposal will benefit the wider community including older residents, people with disabilities and young families, with an emphasis on reducing social isolation and promoting digital inclusion.
  • Oswaldtwistle Library will be transferred to the Oswaldtwistle Lamp group to provide an independent community library. Lamp is also proposing to strengthen trade and encourage new business by offering space to entrepreneurs, as well as offering volunteering opportunities to increase people's employability and reduce social isolation.
  • Whitewell Bottom Community Centre will be transferred to Whitewell Bottom Community Association following a proposal focused on using the centre to provide a range of community activities for people of all ages. This would also allow Whitewell Bottom Pre-School to continue using the building.
  • Stoops and Hargher Clough Community Centre will be transferred to West End (Burnley) Community Interest Company following a bid focused on using the building as a community hub to continue to provide a range of activities for people of all ages, tackling issues such as unemployment, ill-health, and low educational attainment.
  • It has also been agreed that an independent community library can be established by Mercer 1842 at the Arthur Wilson Centre, Hyndburn, using the book stock and resources from the former Clayton-le-Moors library. The Arthur Wilson Centre is not a county council building.

Further decisions have been taken to decline applications for community asset transfers relating to three buildings which the county council no longer needs - Earby Library, Barrowford Library, and Whalley Library and Spring Wood Children's Centre.

How the proposals were considered

The proposals have been considered according to the council's Community and Asset Transfer (CAT) policy, which provides criteria for the council to consider when transferring into community ownership, assets which could improve people's economic, social, or environmental wellbeing.

The decision to agree in principle a number of CATs has taken into account factors including funds which the council could potentially have raised from selling the buildings and whether community groups have the capacity, governance and financial resources to make a success of their proposals and sustain them long term.

All of the proposals are subject to further discussion and final agreement on the terms of the transfer.

See the report summary for more information about the decisions.

Independent community-run libraries

Where communities want to run their own library, we've offered a package of support to help them become established. This would include giving them a one-off payment of £5,000 to provide public internet access and cover set-up costs and providing shelving and an initial supply of books. A community library manager has been appointed to offer advice and guidance, including having an appropriate constitution, gaining charitable status, fund raising, setting milestones, stock management and training volunteers. The post is for a fixed term of two years.