Liverpool Council looks to offload churches and community centres

Churches, a village hall and community centres are among the latest assets Liverpool Council could look to get off its books and into the hands of communities.

The city council is responsible for thousands of plots of land, buildings and locations across its 43 square miles. In a bid to keep them afloat, the local authority is currently moving ahead with plans to offload two of its leisure centres in Everton and Toxteth under its community asset transfer policy.

Now, with revisions being made to the scheme, more than half a dozen new sites could be handed over to community groups and social enterprises.

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Earlier this year, the council’s cabinet confirmed it would invite expressions of interest from community organisations to take over the running of Lifestyles sites at Everton Park and Park Road after they were deemed “not financially viable.” Community asset transfer (CAT) is the transfer of land and property from the council to the ownership and/or management of a third sector organisation including voluntary and community organisations, social enterprises, and other not-for-profit groups.

As it looks to make changes to its existing terms for disposing of assets, Liverpool Council has revealed seven sites it could look to pass on next. These include Anfield Cemetery Chapel on Priory Road, the closed Garston Urban Village Hall on Banks Road, Joseph Gibbons Day Centre on Livingston Drive near Sefton Park and Knotty Ash Community Centre, East Prescot Road.

St Brendan’s Shrine on Prescot Road in Old Swan could also be taken into community hands alongside two parcels of land in Kensington and Anfield. The locations were confirmed as part of a report on the policy which will go before Liverpool Council’s culture and economy scrutiny committee next week.

It said: “Disposing of assets through this programme highlights the council’s ongoing commitment to supporting and empowering the voluntary and community sector in order to continue to promote the Council Plan, specifically the pillar in relation to ‘Thriving Communities.’ The council acknowledges that community-based groups are key partners in the delivery of services and provide a vital link with local communities within the city.

“It is recognised that the way the council’s physical assets are managed can have a positive impact on the long-term strength of those communities and in order to do this a long-term partnership approach is required for the right type of assets.”

Ward councillors for each of the proposed sites were consulted in March and backed the plans. Any leases agreed with successful groups need to include obligations that the use of the property is for community asset purposes only and include powers for the council to intervene or terminate the lease should the tenant fail to comply with these obligations.

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