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Wirral Borough Council (Asset Review)

Volume 498: debated on Tuesday 27 October 2009

13. What recent discussions he has had with Wirral borough council on its proposals to transfer assets to community ownership. (295533)

Through the advancing assets demonstration programme, which my Department funds, support has been given to Wirral borough council and its community partners since mid-2008 for implementation of the strategic asset review. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for his sterling campaigning work, not least in regard to saving library services.

Initially, Wirral council provided little information for community groups on its strategic asset review and transfer, and even fewer resources. That has caused concern to constituents of mine who want their local halls to be preserved and to prosper. What advice can the Govt provide in terms of benchmarks, management structures, finances and experience elsewhere?

This is an important development, which is why, between 2007 and 2011, we shall have invested £5 million in it. A number of organisations are supporting Wirral, including Community Matters and the Development Trust Association. All those organisations can provide access to practical advice and guidance, as well as links to other organisations throughout the country and case studies.

I understand that Wirral has made it clear that it is prepared to consider undertaking capital works to upgrade buildings and providing revenue support thereafter, but if my hon. Friend continues to be concerned, I shall be happy to meet him to discuss the matter.