Ifor Jones is the Director of Constituency Services at Birmingham City Council. As he says in the interview below, he got a involved in the current community asset transfer work a little down the line.
A key part he played was to help nurse through last minute contractual issues involving the council’s legal officers and Norton Hall and Witton Lodge Community Association.
Ifor also reflects on what he thinks the council and community groups can learn from the ground laid by the work of officers like Karen Cheney and Jane Edwards in property:
- The legal side was “tough”. Don;’t think a community hall is “small beer” compared with the big property deals. The art is building trust but also recognising and respecting that this is a legal process.
- An outcome has been a lease model developed during this process.
- Birmingham has chosen to do community asset transfer one step at a time, rather than a “big bang” of many buildings at once – and now has the benefits of learning from doing it this way.
- Valuing worth has many applications – including with worklessness and unemployment.
- For a local authority: Not a universal panacea. The quirk report was important but “all it did was open up a set of possibilities”. Temper making this happen to local circumstances. Fit it to local policy and politics. Birmingham likely to use this as a tool kit, because asset transfer wont always be the right answer. Let people innovate, especially between strategic staff and community groups.