Decisions about transferring assets to parish councils will become more democratic and publicly transparent under recommendations being considered by St Albans City and District Council. Relevant ward councillors and chairs of Scrutiny Committees will also have the opportunity to see transfer applications at an earlier stage, should the recommendations be accepted.
At its 27 September meeting, the Council’s Local Services Scrutiny Committee recommended various changes to the proposed procedure for managing the transfer of such assets in future.
The District Council is inviting Town and Parish Councils that wish to take on ownership of local assets, such as parks and green spaces to express their interest. This follows changes made under the Localism Act 2011. The Act aims to let communities have greater control over public assets in their area and to take on additional responsibilities for the management of local services.
The Council’s Cabinet currently considers all applications for the transfer of the Council’s assets, no matter the size, scale or importance to the community. Cabinet is currently considering delegating decisions on assets below a certain financial threshold or those with limited impact on the community, to Council officers. With this in mind, Cabinet asked the Local Services Scrutiny Committee to consider the matter and to feed back any recommendations it may have.
The Committee’s recommendations to Cabinet provide an opportunity for scrutiny of all asset transfer applications, regardless of their financial value. The Committee also recommends that applications are seen by Ward Councillors and the Chair of the relevant Scrutiny Committee to comment on at an earlier stage. To increase transparency further, completed transfer documents will be published on the Council’s website.
The Committee agreed to recommend these changes for Cabinet to consider at their meeting on 18 October.
Cllr Robert Donald, Chair of the Local Services Scrutiny Committee at St Albans City and District Council, said: “The new Localism Act encourages Parishes and residents’ groups to consider taking on greater ownership for the running of facilities and services in their area. However, localism decisions should not be made behind closed doors, and should be fully transparent. There must a recognised and open process for ensuring that any request for the transfer of an asset from the District Council to a Parish or another authorised resident group is subject to a democratic and transparent process involving ward councillors and public scrutiny.
“Our Committee’s recommendations will ensure the democratic rights of both the community seeking an asset transfer, and the wider District community passing over an asset, are preserved and people are fully aware of what is proposed. If they are agreed, any proposal could now be openly debated in advance of the decision being made.”
The meeting on 27 September was open to the public. A webcast
of the meeting can be seen on the Council’s website.
for the meeting can be seen on the Council’s website and the minutes will be available shortly.
Cllr Robert Donald, Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny (Public Services) Committee, St Albans City and District Council
Tel: 01727 841647
Contact for the media:
Ruth Boyer, Communications Officer, St Albans City and District Council
Tel: 01727 819316
Information about the role of the Local Services Scrutiny Committee
, formerly the Overview and Scrutiny (Public Services) Committee, is available on the Council’s website.