Communities being stripped of assets, say campaigners

Campaigners stage a protest outside the Henry Jenkins pub, Kirkby Malzeard, which they have fought to have protected as an Asset of Community Value. Picture by Simon Hulme
Campaigners stage a protest outside the Henry Jenkins pub, Kirkby Malzeard, which they have fought to have protected as an Asset of Community Value. Picture by Simon Hulme
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Vibrant communities are being stripped of their assets, campaigners have warned, as a postcode lottery is revealed over success rates to protect treasured amenities.

Up to three quarters of bids to protect community assets under the Government’s Big Society have been rejected outright in parts of the region, an investigation by The Yorkshire Post reveals today. And, as a wide disparity for success rates across different towns and cities emerges, campaigners have warned that some local authorities are failing to embrace the legislation.

‘Our pub is the beating heart of our village’

“This is continuing to happen despite the powers given by Government,” said Leeds North West MP Greg Mullholland. “In some cases they are clearly not following the national guidance and are turning down bids quite wrongly, denying local people any say in the future of these local assets.”

The Community Right to Bid, brought in to give groups a fairer chance to save amenities, means they can apply to have it listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV). To successfully list an asset, be it a pub or a village hall, means communities can ‘pause’ its sale for up to six months.

Analysis has found that there have been 436 bids to list ACVs in Yorkshire since the legislation was introduced in 2012, with one in three rejected by local authorities. But there is a wide disparity across the region with some, such as Barnsley, approving 100 per cent of bids while others in Harrogate and Wakefield accepted less than one in four.

“One of the major drawbacks to the legislation is the lack of information and guidelines for councils on how to decide on an application,” said Paul Ainsworth, chair of Camra’s pub campaigns group, adding that the administrative burden on councils means it is easier to refuse an application than deal with the paperwork. “This has led some councils to ‘gold-plate’ requirements so that it is virtually impossible for some communities to protect their local – simply because of where they live.”

A spokesman for the Department of Communities and Local Government said Government is committed to putting power into the hands of local people, with thousands of successful bids.

“We are currently working with stakeholders to understand how we can help even more communities list their local assets and hope to make an announcement in due course.”