#CATJRF: An open discussion on community asset transfer…

As promised last week, today marks the beginning of a discussion (debate is probably too grand a term for what we have in mind) of Community Asset Transfer… If you are confused as to what that means, it refers to the transfer of title or services from some form of statutory ownership or management to a community organisation.

It is associated by some with the current UK government’s push to try and bring community players into action as part of the Big Society, but in Northern Ireland local communities have been developing their own assets for much of the last forty years, often through a shared sense of marginalisation and a ground up call to action.

The purpose is to create a more meaningful context for a piece of Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) funded research which has been conducted by Queens University, which is looking in some detail at how asset transfer is currently working in Northern Ireland.

We’ll begin with a number of pieces we’ve pre-commissioned along with some interviews I was able to record (Kodak roughly) on the ground last week. But our aim is to keep the discussion as open at the top of the blog as it is in the comment zone.

To that end, we’re hoping to bring as many different voices and angles on the issue as we can manage. For instance we’ll have some perspectives from England and Scotland and I’m hoping to source material on asset transfer from further afield in France and Portugal.

One focal point will come on Thursday, when we’ll have a live blog from a seminar (there’s space for a small number of bloggers/tweeters who may want to join us for that). To get reminder for the live blog, sign up here:

We’re also hoping to have some political input towards the end of the fortnight, but we’re really keep to let people who are involved in asset transfer and those who are critical of it to have their say first.

So it’s an experiment. The plan is to let it grow organically, with later contributors being free to take up, develop or challenge points made by earlier posters. The rest of the blog will continue on its usual business, but you will be follow all contributions to the community asset transfer discussion here.

So remember, you can participate in three ways:

  • submitting a blog essay to me (editor@sluggerotoole.com) with a word limit of between 400 and 600 words;
  • contributing to our live blog on Thursday 23rd from the project seminar at Queens;
  • flagging articles or projects either here on Slugger or on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus and tagging, where appropriate with #CATJRF (so we can find it).
We’re also developing a relevant list on Twitter, which you may like to follow…

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  • The “signy up thing” doesnt work.
    Id like to go along.
    Farset Bldg, Springfield?

  • Well done, Slugger – I loved the first question last week: ‘What are you talking about, Mick?’ which encapsulates the challenge of extending sometimes complex policy dilemmas (usually engulfed by jargon and acronyms) to people who are actually doing these things on the ground.
    I have an interest in this – in that I advise the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in N. Ireland http://www.jrf.org.uk and am therefore especially keen to see how to broaden and deepen access to policy development.
    We have often railed against the ‘thin’ policy community, here, but now here is an opportunity to show it at its best…

  • Mick Fealty

    Thanks both. I agree Quintin. It’s a real opportunity to bring something that’s been seen as discreet magic and bring it to earth in a public domain.

    First interview with Maurice Kincaid of East Belfast Partnership is up already, and first blog essay on the Scottish experience should be up this afternoon.

    I really do want to hear from new folks, in the comment zone as much as in their blog contributions.

  • Thanks Mr Fealty.
    Signed up to the reminder.
    Does this mean I can go to the seminar on Thursday?

  • Mick Fealty

    It’s a sign up to the live blog. Email me if you want to go on Thursday? Just need to keep an eye on numbers.

  • aquifer

    Since the community is essentially paying to maintain the asset values of private property by donating blood sweat and tears to zombie bankers, maybe we should claw something back by way of taxation on indolence and greed. Sammy’s tax on vacant property is a great start. How do taxes on churches and night clubs compare however?

  • Brendan Murtagh

    Just saw Maurice Kincade’s and he makes the vital point that asset transfer must be for something – it’s a mechanism to achieve other regeneration and community development outcomes. It is important that asset transfer doesn’t become a fad for the moment but is linked to wider policy objectives. The problem here is that the mechanisms that could help such as disposing of assets at ‘below best value’, community right to buy and specific investment programmes to purchase and refurbish buildings are not available in Northern Ireland. The Social Investment Fund could make a meaningful contribution to developing this and give asset transfer a real boost.