Dumfries and Galloway Council has attracted praise for its approach to community asset transfer and for helping to reinvigorate communities through community ownership of buildings.
Organisations like Development Trust Association Scotland and Community Ownership Support Service have both highlighted the good work.
There is also a “very high satisfaction” level expressed by community transfer bodies involved in the procedure, with the support offered by the council.
Community asset transfer (CAT) is seen as an active way for the council to help communities thrive through local management and ownership of their assets.
There have now been CATs in 11 out of the 12 council wards.
The draft Community Asset Transfer Annual Report 2018-19 has been agreed by the Communities Committee of the local authority.
The report details what the local authority has done to promote the use of asset transfer requests and support community transfer bodies to make requests.
A positive element of the annual report is the positive engagement with Community Transfer Bodies – there was a 100 per cent response rate to the follow up survey about the support given to them about the process, with the responses to the questions showing 77 per cent to 97 per cent satisfaction (either very good or excellent) for all three aspects.
Ward Officers and the Community Assets Team continue to act as key supports to help community groups navigate the CAT process.
There are financial benefits to the work, as well as community empowerment. While the wider community/social value was not currently evaluated, it was known that savings of over £400,000 would be achieved through the property rationalisation.
The final Annual Report will now be designed and published on the Council’s website.
The Community Development and Empowerment Manager and Ward Officers support community groups to develop their Business Plans in line with the Council’s CAT application process. Third Sector Dumfries and Galloway provides advice and support to groups regarding their governance and funding applications.
Opportunities to support the costs of this work, particularly for groups to exchange ideas and best practice are being identified.
Ward Officers are actively encouraging peer-to-peer learning and sharing of experience from groups that have successfully navigated the CAT process.
Following a successful CAT, it often takes time for the Community Transfer Body to get the building into the condition and shape required for its new function and to bring the business plan fully to fruition. The plans are widely different in magnitude and scope – everything from equipping a small shed for men to creating a planetarium and a gin distillery.
Communities staff are working with some the key transferees on a CAT film with the purpose of inspiring other community groups to see that they too can develop their aspirations for their communities through the Council’s support.
The draft Community Asset Transfer Annual Report 2018-19 can be read here: Dumfries-and-Galloway-Council-Community-Asset-Transfer-Annual-Report-2018-19-Appendix.pdf