Agenda item

Community Asset Transfer Update


The Community Asset Transfer (CAT) officer presented a report providing the Forum with an outline of the changes to Bridgend County Borough Council’s Community Asset Transfer (CAT) policy and the support and opportunities currently available to Town & Community Councils (T&CCs) to work with the Council and community groups to achieve the best management arrangements for public sector assets and services.


The CAT officer explained that the updated CAT Policy was approved by Cabinet in July 2019 and took account of the recommendations of the CAT Task & Finish group. The main changes to the policy were the priority of assets; priority 1 sports pavilions, playing fields and Community centres, priority 2, playgrounds, free car parks and allotments and then priority 3 covering everything not included in priority 1 and priority 2. He explained that the document introduced a fast track system as one of the biggest criticisms they had received was the length of time it took to complete CATs. Where previously they required detailed business plans, now they only asked the submission of income and expenditure projections for a minimum of a 5-year period for the majority of CATs (but detailed business plans would still be requested for more complex projects, e.g. new builds).


The CAT officer outlined the position regarding CAT funding and resources and added that in October 2020 a Business Case for support under the Council’s Change Management Fund of £266,461 was approved by the Corporate Management Board (CMB). This included the creation of three new fixed-term posts required to progress multiple CATs and to achieve the financial savings under the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS). He explained that paragraph 4.12 of the report outlined in summary, the progress made particularly during the last two years of the COVID pandemic and Appendix B, also provided detailed information on the transfers that were being progressed. Details of eight transfers completed to date were included in the report and a further one had completed since the report was published.


The CAT officer explained that one of the most pleasing aspects of the Community Asset Transfers during the pandemic was that 10 out of 12 bowls clubs agreed to undertake the self-management of 11 bowls greens from 1 November 2020 while long-term leases were being progressed.


The CAT officer outlined progress on the strategic review of the 3 major parks. The first phase of the review was completed in May 2021. The remit for the Second Phase Review should be developed in consultation

with Just Solutions to take account of the principles agreed by Cabinet / CMB and enable appropriate frameworks for individual strategies for Newbridge Fields and Maesteg Welfare Park to be progressed.


The CAT officer explained that the CAT staff resources had increased in the last few months and there had been a corresponding increase in progress made in that short period. Sadly, one member of staff resigned at the end of December and they were in the process of trying to recruit a replacement.

In conclusion, they had had very good experiences of working with Town and Community Councils and looked forward to increasing partnership working going forward.


The Leader said that he was really pleased to see the progress that had been made and thanked the small team that was working on this for what had been achieved by working so closely with clubs and the Community Councils.


A member said that a Town Council had requested oncosts for various aspects in relation to Welfare Park but nothing had been forthcoming. There was a company looking at a way forward but they were unable to progress without the oncosts. The CAT officer replied that working with the Town Council would be a positive step forward however it would be difficult to provide oncosts and as a way forward they were looking at the cost of maintaining each particular aspect. Consultants were already discussing with Tennis Wales, resurfacing the tennis courts. They were looking to provide meaningful information going forward.


A member stated that Bridgend Town council had 5 lease arrangements for allotments and asked if it was the intention to transfer rights to the Town Council for those not subject to a lease agreement. The CAT officer replied that they were not looking to change the existing ones.


The Leader concluded that it was recognised that the team were working incredibly hard and he asked that a further report be submitted to the Forum in 6 to 12 months as this was a topic of particular interest to the Town and Community Councils.


RESOLVED              Members of the Town and Community Council Forum noted the Council’s:

·      Revised CAT Policy designed to simplify the process and reduce delays.

·      Associated funding under the CAT Fund that has been set aside to encourage and support the transfer of Priority 1 assets.

·      And recognised that community owned and managed models of delivery could reinvigorate community assets and could be devolved to the local level in which they operated. The success of CAT was dependent on the proactive participation

of willing participants – T&CCs and community groups - together with their ability and capacity to manage the asset.

·      Commitment and willingness to engage with T&CCs and community groups to progress CATs.


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