BURY Council is hoping to make it easier for community groups to take ownership, or take over the running, of council buildings and facilities.

Cabinet members on Wednesday night approved a new ‘community asset transfer policy’, which the council says will benefit organisations and prove better value for money.

The new policy means applications from groups to buy community assets from the council will be considered against ‘key tests’ designed to ensure a deal which is best for the council and residents.

The council hopes the policy will allow it to achieve savings in its costs of managing property.

Council leader Rishi Shori, chairman of the cabinet, said: “In simple terms this is a a policy that makes it easier for community groups that want to take over running of assets to do so.

"We want to take as flexible an approach as possible."

In advance of a community asset transfer, key tests will be applied to the organisation looking to take over the asset, the property or land itself as well as the value for money of the transfer.

Organisations must be legally constituted community groups, charities or not-for-profit groups.

The decision comes as the council pledges to work with community groups to keep open some of Bury’s libraries, which are due to close after a review.

The council has agreed to help groups as long as it is at no cost to the local authority.

Cllr Shori added the policy was not directly linked to the libraries, but said the situation was a good example of how it might be used to the benefit of community groups.

A council report states: “Community asset transfer has potential to give communities greater control, influence and input into their areas by building a sense of belonging and raise aspirations.

“The council already has a track record of supporting communities when and how it can and has a history of promoting self-management agreements relating to sports and allotment facilities.

“The new policy provides a structure for objectively considering applications, case by case, according to their own merits.”

Applications for asset transfers should be made to the council’s asset management team.

If the community interest matches the objectives of a particular council service objective, representatives of that service will be asked to work with the community organisation to identify and develop a business plan.

Decisions on applications for asset transfers will be made by the council’s chief executive, the executive director of resource and regulation and the head of property and asset management, in consultation with the council leader and the relevant cabinet member.