Blears set to speed up asset transfers

6 Dec 07
Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has announced a 'major acceleration' of the programme that allows local authorities to hand over surplus or disused buildings to community organisations for a token sum.

07 December 2007

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has announced a 'major acceleration' of the programme that allows local authorities to hand over surplus or disused buildings to community organisations for a token sum.

Demonstration sites are already running in 20 local authority areas, following the launch of an implementation plan in May. Projects include the transformation of a former fire station into a community centre and a street market now run by local traders.

The plan was published in response to a review encouraging asset transfers by Barry Quirk, the London Borough of Lewisham's chief executive. Blears' announcement means another 14 pilot schemes will be set up, with a total of 80 to be established by 2010.

In a speech to the Plunkett Foundation annual conference on rural social enterprise, Blears said underused or surplus buildings could 'provide a home for a range of social enterprises, provide a meeting space for local groups and give people an opportunity to learn new skills'.

She added: 'Owning and developing an asset can instil a new confidence into a community. And in many cases it can take a chunk out of antisocial behaviour and petty crime, because people really take care of things when they feel they own them.'

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