News Flash - Politicians are seen telling the truth...
Community Assets - Houghton Regis
On Monday 8th February, Houghton Regis Town Council met for a Community Services meeting. One of the items discussed was the introduction of the ability to register Assets of Community Value which was one of the fanfare items of the Localism Act 2012.
Whilst it was sold as a way to keep important assets within the community, actually it only ever allowed interested groups to bid, at market price for ownership of such assets. In this way it has been occasionally used to save the odd pub or shop that were considered unviable by their current owners but, with an adapted business model could be made to work.
Whilst this was going on, huge changes were being made to the National Planning Policy Framework making the closure of such assets more likely and the ability of community groups to bid successfully with a massive reduction.
In 2015 an inexperienced Council had been elected in Houghton Regis and in a burst of enthusiasm listed a whole series of buildings and areas of land in Houghton Regis as Community Assets. Some of these are the statutory duty of CBC to provide and therefore made little sense for the status to be sought, and others were a wish list that we could not magic into reality.
That said, we feel it is of more value to be truthful with the community and admit that this register is not worth the paper it is written on. This is not good enough for the people of Houghton Regis who deserve to be told the truth.
Labour’s decision to vote against listing certain assets was due to information as stated above and to the fact that we as a parish town council would not be allowed to borrow the sum of money required for it. Even if we were allowed to borrow this sum, it would mean a colossal amount of financial debt going into millions of pounds and therefore would put our council tax increasingly high and mean we could not provide anything else to the community.
We believe that our efforts and energies would be far better directed at ensuring that the inevitable development on Windsor Drive creates the least possible disruption to the area and that the maximum public utility is retained. We are fully committed to listening to the community and working towards achievable outcomes for the growth and development of Houghton Regis, to build a town that we are all proud of.
With this said, we're looking to work with as many like-minded people as possible, so we are looking to organise meetings with members of the public to discuss this matter. Further information about these meetings will be made shortly.