Community assets really need to be cherished

Gary Rycroft
Gary Rycroft

It was great to see the Tasting Garden next to the Storey Institute in Lancaster open again – albeit for one weekend only – a couple of weeks ago. I hope the group of volunteers working to open it up permanently are successful.

A few days after popping in to Tasting Garden I was down in London for a couple of days and between meetings had time for a brew with a friend in Islington.

She showed me round the Garden Square opposite her house, which the local community have taken on and turned into a shared open space for the neighbourhood. A once drab patch of overgrown shrubs hidden by an equally overgrown hedge is now a breath of fresh air in the City.

There’s even a communal herb garden where the residents of Islington can snip off some rosemary or sage according to taste 
to accompany their Sunday roast.

Anti-social crime in the area has gone down, which may be a consequence of the herbs, or the lower hedges or just a sense of pride in having somewhere pleasant on the door step.

Such community assets are important and should be cherished.

The Localism Act 2011 introduced a legal requirement for local authorities to list public and private assets of community value so that if they ever come for sale local groups such as charities can bid to buy them to prevent them being lost to development and in that case there must be a moratorium on a sale for six months whilst efforts are made to raise the money.

Assets of community value may be relatively small like a post office or pub or they may be big like an open space such as a playing field or garden.

When the Localism Act came into force Lancaster City Council asked local people to nominate assets of community value in our District.

According to the LCC website there has been one asset listed so far which is The Ship Inn Hotel in Overton.

I’ve never been in The Ship so I can’t comment either way on its suitability to be listed, but I can’t help thinking there may be other worthy candidates that we as a community should be nominating.