Helping communities achieve sustainable asset transfer
This month the Wales Co-operative Centre starts a new piece of work in partnership with Bridgend County Borough Council. The council wants to transfer responsibility for buildings and facilities across the area to community groups. Working in partnership with Bridgend Association of Voluntary Organisations and the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, our role will be to help local people and community groups, including town and community councils, through this process. We need to ensure they know what they are taking on and to support them with skills and knowledge to make the transfer a success. The last thing the community or the council wants are valued facilities closing as a result of a poor transfer process.
Transfers are often tricky. Many enterprises fail during the transfer process: even a sound business can close as a result of problems during transfer. This is the case whatever the transfer scenario – be it when small businesses are sold, passed on to family or transferred to staff as part of a management or employee buy out. We have experience of supporting successful transfers at the Wales Co-operative Centre. Another service we provide is to support employees to buy out business owners when the latter want to exit their business.
Achieving sustainable transfers of community assets or of business ownership is complex. Key to making it a success is to ensure both parties have access to independent advice and expertise. If the situation is one sided, as could easily be the case when a transfer takes place been a public body and a community group, then it may be that the transfer does not take place in a way that is sustainable from a community perspective. So hats off to Bridgend CBC for putting this support in place for the community in the county.
The Assembly’s Cross Party Group on Co-operatives and Mutuals will be discussing community assets as well as the wider community rights agenda at its next meeting. The session will consider lessons from England and Scotland to inform the Welsh Government’s commitment to developing a ‘Made in Wales’ approach reflecting Welsh needs and aspirations. The meeting is sponsored by Co-operatives UK and takes place on Tuesday 15th November from 12.30pm to 1.30pm at the Senedd. It is open to all. You can sign up to attend at https://nawcoopsmutualscpg.eventbrite.co.uk.