A scheme which obliges local authorities to list and protect assets of community value in England is unlikely to be introduced in Wales until after the next Assembly elections.
The Assets of Community Value (ACV) measures mean that if an asset on the list is offered for sale, the community has six weeks to register an interest in bidding for the asset. Once the interest is registered, the community has a further six months before the asset is put on the open market, where they have an opportunity to purchase it.
Land or buildings which are considered to benefit the social or economic wellbeing of the community can be nominated by local community groups to be listed.
In a statement last week, Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Communities and Tacking Poverty outlined the government’s concerns including:
- “Community groups need to be aware the Assets of Community Value measures do not enable them to force the sale of an asset to the community, or prevent its sale to a higher bidder once the 6 month moratorium period is over. In addition, it is important the distinction between a physical facility, and the services provided from it is clearly understood. The former may be covered by the Measures while the latter is not.
- “Asset owners may consider the Measures infringe their rights and portray private owners negatively or express concerns listing will lower the value of an asset or make it difficult to sell.
- “Local Authorities would have a number of roles in relation to the ACV Measures. As well as being responsible for maintaining lists of community assets, they are likely to be the owners of some of the assets in question. They will also have established relationships with many community organisations, including providing funding and advice but also in regulatory roles.”
The statement concludes:
“I consider there is scope for us to develop an approach which is better suited to the Welsh context and addresses some of the shortcomings in the present arrangements in England.
“The Welsh Government greatly values the contribution key community facilities, and more particularly the people who support and use them, make to the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of Wales.”
While supporting the idea of a specifically Welsh solution to the issue, Plaid Cymru have argued that waiting for two or three years before measures are in place risks losing valuable assets in the meantime.
We spoke to Plaid shadow environment minister Llyr Gruffyd who explained his concerns, particularly about the impact on services of public sector cuts:
We’d like to know what you think about the issue. If the scheme was introduced in Wales, which valuable community assets in Roath would you like to see protected?
This story was written as part of the National Assembly Wales hyperlocal day – tackling the democratic deficit. For more information visit democraticdeficitwales.tumblr.com.