Last evening around 25 members of the public met at Upton pavilion to learn about the possibilities for the youth club building on Wealstone Lane. Tim Dodd head of property services for CWaC was there to answer questions. Councillor Bryan attended by teams for a short part of the meeting.
I had a short briefing with Tim yesterday afternoon to try to understand the process. I was told that the decision to make the site/building the subject of an asset transfer had not been officially made and that the process would not begin until after 4th May. At the meeting both these has changed.
When an asset transfer is underway the community has 3 months to show an interest and present a brief case. This is not a full financial presentation. Tim Dodd said at the meeting that the Council administration wants to start the process immediately. This was not welcomed by the meeting.
I will explain why. Because of the elections the period known as purdah starts on 17th March. At this date councillors cannot work with officers and officers cannot support members with community issues. So if the 3 month period starts immediately I will not be able to act as an intermediary for our community. It is likely to impact on Parish Councillors too.
Also the 3 months will be over before the May elections so borough and parish councillors elected then, will along with the community, be faced with a fait accompli.
The meeting asked that Tim passed this back to the council.
There were lots of interesting questions many focusing on the value of the site and the building. Tim made it clear that the building is not tenable for use and will need to be demolished but that the cost for this would fall on the Upton community. The meeting felt this was unacceptable.
He also, despite being pushed by residents and me, declined to give any financial information, if indeed he had access to such details. We were told that no costing or full survey have been carried out for the building and the site. This means any community group/s will be showing an interest in the unknown.
Neither the residents at the meeting nor I can understand or accept that CWaC wants Upton to take on as a community asset a building which needs to be demolished and a site about which there is no financial information.
There is definite interest in the community working together to facilitate a community asset transfer and to look for funding, but not under the current closed circumstances.
I think to sum up the feeling of the meeting I can be confident in saying yes the community wants to take advantage of the opportunities, but the community is not willing to take on a building and a site as liabilities rather than assets.
There is more to be done and CWaC must show willing to work with our community not impose upon Upton.
Tim will be supplying some useful information which I will share both on line and in the library, at the pavilion and post offices in Upton.