William Eichler 19 June 2018

Councils sell off 4,000 public buildings a year, FOI requests reveal

Local authorities have sold-off thousands of public buildings and spaces to private developers in order to cover the loss of central Government funding, charity finds.

Freedom of Information (FOI) requests made by the charity Locality to all councils in England have revealed that more than 4,000 buildings and spaces were sold off each year between 2012 to 2016.

Published in their report The Great British Sell Off, the FOI responses also showed that less than half of the councils approached (41%) have a strategy to support community ownership.

Locality, which launch their Save Our Spaces campaign today, warned this revealed a ‘short-term approach’ to public buildings which are permanently lost to the community once they have been sold.

‘More than 4,000 public buildings and spaces are being sold off a year, that’s more than four times the number of Starbucks in the UK. This is a sell off on a massive scale,’ said Tony Armstrong, CEO of Locality.

‘We know that many of the buildings being lost have valuable community uses. Every one of us can think of a local public building or outside space we love and use – from libraries to lidos and town halls to youth centres.

‘They are owned by the public and they’re being sold off for short term gain to fill holes in council budgets.’

Cllr Richard Watts, chair of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Resources Board, defended the sector, arguing: ‘Before a decision is made to sell an asset, the cost of selling it versus the benefit it could bring is considered carefully.’

‘Local councillors, elected by local people, understand the deep connection communities have with their public spaces and buildings,’ he continued.

‘If we are to be able to maintain them and fund front-line services, the Government must address our funding shortfall of over £5bn a year by 2020 as soon as possible.

‘It is essential that the funding for local government, which has faced cuts of 40% over the last eight years, is put on a sustainable footing, so we can support our communities through essential services and vital infrastructure.’

Locality urged local authorities to consider community ownership as an alternative to selling to private developers and it called on the Government to set up a Community Ownership Fund which could provide local community organisations with £200m a year for five years.

‘Many hundreds of local community groups are stepping up and fighting for community ownership,’ said Mr Armstrong.

‘But they urgently need support and help with start-up costs if they are to compete with the commercial developers.

‘Funding to support community ownership has dried up in recent years, and Government, investors and charitable funders must come together to unlock a set-up fund for community ownership.’

Regenerating public realm for climate change image

Regenerating public realm for climate change

The regeneration of White Hart Lane in Tottenham, London has shown has permeable paving and street trees should can help address climate change while delivering SuDS. Chris Hodson reports.
SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Interim Director of Adult Social Services

Tile Hill
Negotiable day rate
We are currently supporting our local authority client in their search for an interim DASS South East England
Recuriter: Tile Hill

Communications and Engagement Officer

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£38385 - £41586 per annum
Communications and Engagement Officer - Internal Communications£38,385 to £41,586 (annual pay award pending)Permanent / full-timeWe're looking for an England, London
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Assistant Director (IT and Digital)

Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council
£95,277
Our Vision 2024 is centred round Calderdale as the place. Halifax, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council

Project Search Employment Coach

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
£25,419-£30,095
The Project Search Employment Coach will provide daily job coaching support to interns. Sandwell, West Midlands
Recuriter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Project Search Employment Coach

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
£25,419-£30,095
The Project Search Employment Coach will provide daily job coaching support. Sandwell, West Midlands
Recuriter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.