I’ll be very interested in FitzJamesHorse’s comments on this morning’s seminar on Community Asset Transfer. Lisa’s more authoritative account(s) will follow. Here’s some quick thoughts of my own.
One, this ‘community’ is rather different to the one that many of us associate with the major imperatives of conflict resolution (or conflict management as David Ervine often referred to it). Owning and managing assets imply a shift from the old deficit model, which relied on claims of suffering
Two, there are no doubt some dangers of ‘capture’ by larger business or political interests, but with the acquisition of assets comes responsibilies as well as a degree of empowerment.
Three, it’s becoming clear that Community Asset Transfer is not the actual point of this debate. What’s more important than the tool is what it can do. Brendan Murtagh emphasised the multiplier effect of communities owning and running services and/or property. Steve Wyler of Locality calls it ‘capitalising the poor’.
There are concerns though. How do you maintain legitimacy within the community when you are running wider services? What are the opportunities and dangers of collaboration with both public and private sectors? How does government make decisions at a time when money’s too tight to mention?
I’m keen to give space here on Slugger for people to give us more detail on this. What’s the perspective on this from inside government? From the private sector? From a union perspective: is this swapping real jobs for no jobs? And more case studies and knowledge share from big established social enterprises for new entrants?
In conversation afterwords it seems clear that the capacity for communities to make autonomous decision can be increased by the holding and development of capital assets. Not everyone is going agree that that is necessarily a good thing.