GIVING Welsh communities more rights to land and assets – from village halls to pubs and parks – is backed by a majority of the public, a body pushing for reform has said. 

Think tank the Institute of Welsh Affairs has called for more rights for local communities to access land and assets for shared benefit and has described Welsh communities as “the least empowered in Britain”.  

The IWA’s Our Land: Communities and Land Use report has found that communities in Wales have almost no statutory rights, which stands in stark contrast to the community right of first refusal in Scotland, or the community right to bid in England. 

It’s report has drawn up recommendations on empowering communities to take control of assets which it says have been backed by the public in research it conducted. 

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It has recommended the Welsh Government devise a Community Empowerment Bill that establishes a register of community assets, and gives communities a statutory first right of refusal over these assets when they are proposed for sale or transfer. 

It also wants a “well-financed” Community Asset Fund which communities could use buy facilities and the government should have a support package, particularly targeted at disadvantaged communities, while a “social value” policy would mean public bodies would consider more than the potential sale price when looking to dispose of assets.  

You Gov carried out research on public support for four recommendations which found they were overwhelmingly supported by those who replied. 

Auriol Miller, director of the IWA welcomed the findings and said its research had also shown how limited policies on community asset transfers and red tape in Wales are frustrating those willing to take on greater responsibility. 

She said: “We’ve seen examples of community ownership giving derelict buildings new leases of life, generating renewable energy under local ownership, and tackling the second homes crisis through community-led housing. 

“However, our research found a loud and clear message from communities across Wales: that the current system works against, rather than with communities who are attempting to take control of local assets for community benefit. The time has come for this to change.” 

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Researchers asked to what extent, if at all, would people support or oppose legislation giving communities a right of first refusal to buy key community assets such as land, village halls and pubs before they are listed on the open market. Total support was 68 per cent and total opposition eight per cent. 

On funding grants for communities to buy or lease community assets such as land, village halls and pubs to be run by the community total Support was 71 per cent and opposition eight per cent. 

Creating a coordinated support package, such advisors and publishing detailed guidance, to help assist communities to run their assets such as land, village halls and pubs was supported by 67 per cent and opposed by nine per cent. 

Research also found 59 per cent supported the statement that “assets should be sold to whoever offers the wider social benefits, even if this is at a lower price”. 

Just eight per cent supported the statement that “assets should be sold to whoever offers the highest price, even if this doesn’t have wider benefits”. 

The total sample size was 1,008 adults and the online survey was carried out between January 4 and 6 this year. Figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults in Wales (aged 16+). 

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