How Long is a Piece of String?

Originally posted April 29th 2013


“How long is a piece of string?”

In the previous blog, we gave a basic overview of the Community Asset Transfer process. We did this to provide a little bit of background to the process that The Civic Group is involved with, as the one question we are always asked is “When is it going to happen?”

The stock answer of “soon” doesn’t seem to hold much promise when we’ve been saying it for over 18 months.

As I alluded to in the last blog, Community Asset Transfer can be a complex procedure and in our case is made more complex with the addition of the office part of the building, and working with two other partners – Stourport Town Council and Worcestershire County Council.

Stourport Town Council are looking to secure the site as a community heart and hub, bringing a range of facilities under one roof. Those facilities are generally operated by Worcestershire County Council and would for example include the Library.

So, an already complex procedure is further complicated by having a community group and two levels of local authority talking to another layer of local authority about a site they own. Each layer of local authority has to move at the speed that they operate at, governed by the rules that they have to follow. Throw into that mix the different requirements each has, the availability and access to ever decreasing funding, having to make cost reductions (cuts) elsewhere in their departments, with elections due, and one group being solely run by volunteers and very soon you have something that resembles cold spaghetti at the bottom of a pan.

It might start off long and straight with a start and end in sight, but when you add all those complications in, it can start to look pretty tangled.

This inevitably leads to delays, some of which are unavoidable. Every delay pushes back the timelines and deadlines, sometimes into the following deadline. An example of this was that The Civic Theatre Hall was supposed to be closing for a much needed renovation in a few week’s time. This has been pushed back 12 months because of delays in the process elsewhere.

Whilst this “slippage” will actually benefit the group in the short term, it doesn’t help Wyre Forest District Council who want to dispose of the site, and will have to pay for the upkeep of the site until the transfer is agreed. Other delays have created issues with contracted services or providers. Unnecessary but unavoidable.

The biggest problem with the delays is the frustration that sets in – on all sides.

The Civic Group want the transfer to complete so that we can manage and operate the building in the way it should be – we have everything in place to do so.

The Town Council want the transfer to happen so that they have a home once more, and a building built by the people of Stourport is owned by the people of Stourport.

The District Council want to get rid of a building that they are paying for, but not using.

Finally, because we all want County involved (for so many reasons) – they want the transfer to complete.

There are a few more hurdles for the three tiers of local authority to overcome, and unless new ones present themselves, then it should all be resolved shortly.

Will it go ahead?

Without a doubt!

When will it happen?


How “Soon” is “Soon”?

How Long Is A Piece Of String?


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