Only two Fife Council assets transferred to community groups in five years

Fife councillors are to take a closer look at how the area deals with community asset transfers after it emerged just two have been approved in five years.

Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 7:52 am

Kirkcaldy North councillor Neil Crooks has spearheaded a plan for a working group to examine the way Fife Council assesses community asset transfers (CATs).

Since the process that allows community groups to buy old council buildings went live in August 2016, the local authority has received 53 formal applications.

Of those, 25 were accepted and considered in more detail - but just two have since been completed.

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Another ten of the 25 have been approved, pending the formal purchase of the asset in question.

Cllr Crooks told a committee meeting: "We only appear to have had two successful transfers to another body in this period of five years and that seems quite small change for such a significant resource that is put into this.

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"I'd be happy to take a lead on this to find out more about what's behind the reasoning of only having two successful outcomes and 20 outstanding applications. There's nothing there I can read and make any sort of sense of. We don't know why people have been refused."

Community asset transfers were introduced in Scotland to give councils the power to hand unused land and buildings to community bodies.

Anyone bidding for public property needs a legitimate purpose for doing so, and has to demonstrate how it would be a "best value" use.

The two successful transfers saw Kirkcaldy YMCA take over the former Gallatown Park Bowling Club, and Kingdom Brass Band snap up the one-time Kelty Library.

However, Cllr Crooks, backed by other councillors, wants more details on why 28 of the 53 applications were rejected or withdrawn outright - and why three of the late-stage bids were refused.

Linda Erskine, Lochgelly, Cardenden and Benarty, said councillors were often "stuck in the middle" when CAT talks stall, adding: "If we're going to look at this, and I sincerely hope we look at the whole policy in greater detail, I'd to look at how the process engages local elected members."

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