I have to admit to a few nerves before the Any Questions on Friday but once I was up on the stage I found I rather enjoyed it. Good to be able to put a charity employer perspective on the Beecroft " report" and to be the only progressive voice on prisoners's votes amidst a sea of reaction; even from old pal Liam Bryne MP.
And the audience were delightful, even including an ACEVO member, who I was able to chat to afterwards at the reception in the Rugby High School common room. I travelled back with Camilla Cavendish and the Schools Minister Nick Gibb MP so a chance to chew the cud and reflect. They both claimed they wouldn't listen to themselves on the Saturday repeat. I certainly did. Noticed my laugh was rather loud and I had far too many "ums" and "ers".
Good for DCLG! They have just launched the "Community Rights" website to coincide with new regulations on community ownership come into force next month.
The site will spotlight changes in the law to help community groups take over buildings or public services, or build new facilities through an abridged planning process.
The website also includes case studies and maps of schemes where community groups took over the running of buildings or services or been involved in designing a new development.
The Community Right to Bid, which comes into force on 27 June, will mean that third sector groups can bid to purchase buildings such as pubs, shops or libraries deemed to be of value to the community.
Important to note that this right applies to all third sector bodies, and not just the local community bodies. We need to ensure there are alliances and partnerships for the bidding process; so this is a natural for national and local charities to team together.
It is vital that we now grasp this new opportunity. It will be problematic as we need funding and sustainable resources to make it work. The Social Investment Business has been working with groups around the country for nearly 10 years supporting third sectors organisations to purchase council buildings and use as community hubs. Loans have been a vital part of the process. They can be incredibly successful in revitalising the local community. But to work they need a sustainable funding stream. Beware the local council wanting to offload a dodgy buidling !