#CATJRF: Remain focused on your mission (forget the glitz of having the asset)…

Colm Bradley of Community Places argues that not every community group is going to want to own assets. He also notes that asset transfer as a policy proposition needs officials and civil servants with receptiveness, foresight and commitment to the community. He also thinks that many community organisations are now more far sighted than they were ten or fifteen years ago, and with the cuts coming longer term planning is more important now than it was. I asked him about … Read more

#AssetTransfer: ‘Meanwhile space’ gives a short term feel for long term solutions…

How do we restore our town centres into exciting and bustling destinations? How do we build the new start-ups  that will provide jobs for our young people? How do we create the social enterprises, sustainable businesses and creative manufacturing that will add real value to our economy? Anyone who says they have the answer is probably lying. If we had the answers, then we wouldn’t be where we are today. So if we aren’t sure about the answers then what … Read more

#Community Asset Transfer: Moving away from the ‘poor mouth’ paradigm of community politics?

Regarding our ongoing series on Community Asset Transfer one focus for distrust has been the sense that most such projects will continue to rely to a greater or lesser extent on grant aid or delivering public services. Niamh Goggin from the independently funded Charity Bank says that there is a change implied from what’s been almost a generation of dependency on grant aid. We’re moving, she says, from ‘putting on the poor mouth’ to ‘let’s do the show right here’. … Read more

#AssetTransfer: Investing in schools in order to help meet community demands…

One of the issues in Belfast is the crumbling leisure infrastructure. The (relatively speaking) cvast number of centres were built in thick of the troubles in the late seventies and early eighties as a large scale capital investment programme. They were located in specific areas in order to take account of the physical separation of working class urban communities. At the time it was not reasonable to expect individuals from the lower Shankill to visit the Falls. Some are already … Read more

#CATJRF: Lough Neagh and the importance of timeliness in transferring assets…

Not much more than a curio at this stage, but Francie Molloy, Micheala Boyle and Oliver McMullan have laid down down Stormont’s equivalent of an early day motion (No Day Named Motion) addressed to two of their party colleagues in the Executive: Establishment of a Working Group to Consider the Return of Lough Neagh into Public Ownership That this Assembly calls on the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure and the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, to convene a … Read more

#CATJRF: Putting community budgeting on the agenda for the citizens of Northern Ireland

Economic and social prosperity in Northern Ireland depends on our public services – well-educated young people; an effective health service; welfare services that support and incentivise the unemployed and disadvantaged; and safe streets and communities. As the crunch on spending looks set to continue beyond this spending round and well into the decade, it is now more imperative than ever that our decision-makers on the Hill move to put our public services on a footing fit for the future. Looking … Read more

#CATJRF: Taking over the local pool? Get your business plan sorted before taking the plunge!

There’s no doubt taking on the ownership and running of a community asset is a daunting task. If you don’t think it is then you haven’t thought it through properly! On the flip side it can be hugely rewarding and if you plan it right it will be well worth the effort. There’s no set process for taking on a community asset but one thing that you should definitely do is put together a business plan. Sounds tedious I know … Read more

#CATJRF: Scoil an Droichid and the downside of asset transfer?

In case anyone was under the impression that community asset transfer is being pushed here as a panacea for all ills and all occasions then what Scoil an Droichid are currently going through should serve as a dire warning of some of the risks involved. It’s not that the school is not in general terms viable. But that the original transfer of the asset (back in 2001) according to Simon Doyle writing on the front page of todays Irish News, … Read more

#CATJRF: Wind powered community development coming to Fermanagh?

Last week, I was lucky enough to catch up with Lauri McCusker of the Fermanagh Trust to talk with him about a relatively recent project, which is no so much about asset transfer as asset development by developing a revenue stream for rural, often very isolated, communities. At the core of it is the concept of community benefit being trailed off wind farms over its life time (about 20 years or so). This sort of payoff has been associated with … Read more

#CATJRF: Why the quality of investment matters to people…

Interesting piece by Julian Dobson on why the quality of investment in assets matters: Go to Greece and see what happens when the investors and lenders have no interest in the welfare of those they have lent to or the quality of their lives. Or, if Greece seems like a distant world, go down to your local town centre and ask how the owners of all the properties that stand empty are caring for the people who live there and … Read more

#CATJRF: Summary of week one conversations…

I suppose Community Asset Transfer is not the sexiest subject in the world around which to convene a conversation, or more accurately a series of small conversations. It’s true also that what I personally knew about asset transfer (community or otherwise) before the last few weeks you could have written on the back of the proverbial postage stamp. And yet, fitfully both on and off Slugger, there have been some passionate insights and criticism aired around the subject. By the … Read more

#CATJRF: Is there is a ‘new politics’ underlying the transfer of capital assets to communities?

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 … Read more

#CATJRF: Community Asset Transfer: Live Blog

Community Asset Transfer Okay, the first session won’t begin for about another hour. Not sure of the wifi capabilities of the venue, so I may be feeding this with content from Twitter, both my own and others on the hashtag #catjrf. I’m hoping for quite a lively session. Not sure how many will be tweeting in the hall, but I’ll pushing out bits and pieces and Lisa will be taking notes for a summarising blog for tomorrow… If you have … Read more

#CATJRF: Opportunity for creating permissive rules for Northern Ireland?

Whilst I’m being single-minded about this, one of the issues identified by Maurice Kinkead is why are civil servants so cautious about handing over assets? Now bear in mind that Treasury rules don’t directly apply to the NICS, but these HMT guidelines from 2008 go some way to explain why in England and Scotland the main players in transferring assets to communities are at council level, rather than ministerial departments (those that may also reflect a difference in value and … Read more

#CATJRF: What the sector is looking for is support around the skills needed to move forward on Asset Transfer…

There are plenty of good examples of asset transfer to community and voluntary organisations right across the region but what the sector now needs is adequate support and advice around the skills required to move this forward.  Within the right policy and legislative framework and with the right skills set and access to social finance, the sector can take the necessary steps to implement more sustainable projects and successful social enterprises.  Opening up the debate on asset transfer is critical and tomorrow’s seminar will therefore be … Read more

#CATJRF: Using ‘meanwhile space’ to test viability of community assets?

Here’s an interesting project in England which takes up the idea of the ‘pop up’ shop to the community level. Northern Ireland has some major assets some of which have been left unused (and therefore without a viable market test for years in some cases). Meanwhile Space is: Meanwhile use’ is the temporary use of vacant buildings or land for a socially beneficial purpose until such a time that they can be brought back into commercial use again. It makes … Read more

#CATJRF: How asset transfer can blur the boundaries between rival communities…

This is another case study interview, about another pretty impressive long term well managed community resource which is, thirty year after it began with the issue of community bonds (each costing £75m, but purchasable in weekly instalments of a pound), the Ashton Community Trust. The trust, headquartered in the nationalist New Lodge area is now delivering services right across north Belfast, and has staff and children coming in from all manner of areas across the area. For Paul Roberts (interviewed … Read more

#CATJRF: Ownership of assets is tempered by the extent to which you have control…

Ballybot House is one of the earliest examples of Community Asset Transfer in Northern Ireland. It’s an old warehouse type building in the centre of Newry in an area that was once called Poor Town… the name is an anglicisation from the historic dialect of the Irish spoken in the south Armagh area of Baille Bocht… Having an asset changes your relationship with the wider community. The responsibilities that come with it, not least in the case of Ballybot the … Read more

Subsidy and a major capital asset in Wales…

Being preoccupied recently with lot of the discourse of community asset transfer, this story from south Wales struck me as an interesting snippet to throw into the mix. It concerns the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Carmarthenshire, which was one of many capital projects floated via public funding around the time of the millennium. I’m told it’s a fantastic resource, and yet it is struggling to keep open without substantial transfers of revenue funding from the Senedd (Welsh Assembly): … Read more

#CATJRF: A property asset is much like any other asset…

Most prominent examples of asset transfer in Northern Ireland tend to be to ‘stewards’, i.e. where ownership is retained by a statutory sector landlord leaving the group to concentrate on delivering community services. Government in Northern Ireland has been traditionally shy of transferring the title to pre existing physical assets, for a range of understandable reasons. In my interview with Maurice Kinkead of the East Belfast Partnership talks about some of the blockages to transferring physical assets to community organisations. He … Read more