Negotiating Asset Transfer
es that you have an initiative in mind that has been progressed to a stage of reasonable clarity. You should have evidence of the need for your project, and ideally, a degree of community support for its broad aims before you approach the local authority.
In the context of community libraries, some authorities are setting out frameworks and procedures to provide a consistent way of engaging with community organisations interested in taking on library assets and services. In this instance the local authority is likely to have publicised their process, and details can often be found on the relevant sections of their website or by contacting the library services department.
In other areas, where there has been no formal move to transfer libraries community organisations have pro-actively sought to take on a library from the local authority or establish new services.
Identifying who to approach in a local authority is often far from straightforward. All local authorities will have their own unique organisational structure and in some instances covering very large geographical areas, (community organisations can use elected members or neighbourhood managers to help them navigate around local authority structures).
It is rare for a local authority to have a single named contact for asset transfer, therefore, community organisation are advised to start their enquiries with:
- The local authority’s Property Officer, (if there is one).
- The lead officer responsible for library services.
- The Cabinet Member with responsibility for i) Communities, ii) Resources or Asset Management and iii) Library Services
- The local authority’s Voluntary and Community Sector Development / Officer, (if there is one).
It is not unusual for a community based organisation to have initial contact with an officer, or indeed an elected member of the local authority, who is unaware of what policy or processes are in place for dealing with asset transfer. Community organisations should avoid reaching agreement on a way forward with someone who has no authority to deal with such matters. Therefore, make sure you are talking to the right person.
The initial meeting with a representative of the local authority should seek to achieve the following as a minimum:
- An exchange of contact details.
- Clarity on who has the authority within the community organisation and the local authority to make decisions.
- Evidence of the resources, skills and expertise within the community organisation.
- An understanding of the aims and objectives of the community organisation and the local authority.
- An agreement of the timescales and next steps.