The Corporate Director –
Finance, Governance and Property introduced the report and stated
that the Committee had raised a point regarding capital receipts
and Member involvement in January 2021, and this report responded
to those comments. He explained that in 2016 the Council had agreed
the 3Rs policy, but since then the process had not moved quickly.
He stated that because of the financial pressures from COVID-19,
this process would now be commenced and assets would be brought
forward in three categories which included; operational assets such
as the Civic Offices and libraries; community assets such as
community halls; and other assets which did not fall into either of
these categories. He explained that these other assets were being
reviewed now, followed by operational assets in the next few
months, and finally community assets, which would be looked at
separately. He commented that the team were currently looking at
surplus land, and stated that ward members would be informed of any
disposals that were being proposed in their area. He stated that
the assets included in the report had largely been included as they
were assets that current, in-situ tenants wished to purchase. He
stated that the site at Dell Road had been included as it had
previously been agreed for disposal, but the sale had fallen
through, and was now being brought forward again to ensure full
transparency. He mentioned that the Constitution had also been
changed the remove officer delegation for any disposals, and
explained that disposals under £200,000 had to be agreed by
the Leader, and disposals over this figure had to be agreed by
Cabinet. He summarised and stated that the proposed asset disposals
would be brought forward in tranches, and any operational asset
disposals would be included as part of the budget, which would be
scrutinised by overview and scrutiny before being brought to
Cabinet, to ensure full transparency.
The Chair welcomed the report and felt pleased to see that Members were being included in the process. He questioned whether residents would be able to have their say on any disposals, and asked if this would form part of the communications approach. He also questioned whether local amenities such as parks and open spaces would be protected from disposal. The Corporate Director Finance, Governance and Property replied that any asset proposed for disposal would need to go through the relevant consultation. He added that parks were usually protected from disposal without due process and thorough rationalisation, including looking at the state of repair of the park. He stated that the asset disposal team were currently only focussing on surplus assets, as some of these were not being used and costing the council money.
Councillor Ralph thanked the Director for bringing the report to scrutiny, and emphasised the need to get market price on any assets that were being disposed of. He then queried if there was a difference in classification between a park and an open space. The Corporate Director Finance, Governance and Property replied that he would provide a written answer to that question, but stated that any asset brought forward for disposal would be clearly classified.
The Chair summarised and put emphasis on the need for parks and open spaces to be protected against disposal, as well as ensuring that residents were consulted.
RESOLVED: That the Committee:
1. Commented on the content of the report and proposed policy set out as Appendix 1.