Author Archive

Iain Neville on why Advantage West Midlands is involved in community asset transfer

Posted on 23rd March 2010 by
Iain Neville of AWM

Iain Neville of AWM

Iain Neville is Head of Economic Inclusion at the West Midlands regional development agency – Advantage West Midlands.    He spoke to us at the conference held on March 26th 2010 to share what has been learnt in the Birmingham pilots with local authorities and community groups from around the region.

You can listen to his thoughts below, but some of the key points he made are:


  • People who are economically excluded – out of work or underemployed – can be helped through community asset transfer by raising aspirations in some of poorer neighbourhoods.
  • AWM began by working with Development Trusts Association to do some research to see if their is a link between asset transfer and economic benefit
  • AWM decided that their most useful role was to work with Birmingham City Council to support their ongoing efforts working with community groups – allowing AWM to learn more about how this might have economic impact
  • Iain would advise local government officers to put the suitability of the community organisation first.  Don’t start with a building you want to gte rid of, work with a community group to ensure they are able to make good long term use of that building.
  • Is the community group clear in it’s purpose and it’s business planning.  If note, put the transfer “in the back pocket” and work with the organisation to help them develop.

He also mentions what is referred to as Viability not liability – ensuring the future viability of the community group is put ahead of handing on liability for buildings.

  • “Palming off” a building on a community group not yet ready “that way lies madness” and the community group may look like it has failed, when it was never suitable to take on the role. That then undermines politicians confidence in community asset transfer.
  • Advice to community groups: “If it’s one active citizen I’d be worried”,  they need a group of people behind them.  Have they throught through the risks.  Keep you objectives the same, not change those because of asset transfer.  Don’t become an organisation who’s purpose is to run a building.
  • What next, the learning from Birmingham can be adapted in many places.  The danger is that this is simply treated as part of an efficiency drive. The aim is for the council to get greater value out of current assets, not simply saving money.  Council’s need to understand the value to a whole area – also through local strategic partnerships and even total place.

Iain gave a presentation to the learning conference on March 23rd 2010. Here are his slides:

Any thoughts please use the comments below.

Perry Common timelapse on March 15th and 16th 2010

Posted on 16th March 2010 by

Perry Common Timelapse March 9th/10th 2010

Posted on 10th March 2010 by

Tut, tut, tut – Norton Hall

Posted on 3rd March 2010 by

It’s not all smooth going with building work. Suzanne Knipe found that the builders had left their access door unlocked – the one that has to stay secure.

The inside out

Posted on 25th January 2010 by

Andy Fisher of Tomlinson’s talks about progress after the snows have cleared.

Linda Hines on the early stages of the work at Perry Common Community Hall

Posted on 21st January 2010 by

Linda Hines is a volunteer director of Witton lodge Community Association – which has taken over Perry Common Community Centre and is turning into a new community hall. Here she gets to look at early progress, and explains what she’s looking forward to.

Why are you heating the outside when it snows?

Posted on 5th January 2010 by

Steve Harrison – Tomlinson’s project manager at Norton Hall – explains why the heaters are on on the outside in the snow.

Norton Hall in early stages of the build

Posted on 23rd December 2009 by

Suzanne Knipe shows us rounds the building work and gives us a sense of what has been accomplished in the first 3 or 4 weeks and what next.

What is this site for?

Posted on 21st December 2009 by

This site has been set up to document the progress of two projects:

1 The refurbishment and extension of Norton Hall Womens and Childrens Centre on Ralph Road just of the Alum Rock Road in Saltley in Birmingham.   Work should be done by Easter 2010

Inside Perry Common Comunity Centre before work began

2 The rebuilding of the Perry Common Community Centre – turning it into an up to date community hall and new offices which will bring the Witton Lodge Community Association  into the heart of the neighbourhood it serves. The £450,000 project at the building on Witton Lodge Road is expected to be completed by April 2010