Our public sector hero – David Bowater of Wiltshire Council

Wiltshire Community Land Trust is delighted to announce that their nominee, David Bowater of Wiltshire Council, was awarded a Locality Public Sector Hero Award in the Supporting Localism category at a reception at the House of Lords on Monday 20 July.  Locality is a national network of community-led organisations.  Locality’s Public Sector Hero Awards recognise shining examples of good practice – the public sector staff who go above and beyond the call of duty to help the local community sector.  David’s citation read:  “David is an excellent enabler, who brings the right people together to move things forward to positive and tangible outcomes for communities”.

Wiltshire CLT works to support communities in Wiltshire and Swindon to own and manage their own assets.  CLT Manager Rose Seagrief says, “We nominated David because of the great work he’s done to support Wiltshire communities to take advantage of the opportunities created by the Localism Bill by publishing Wiltshire’s Community Ownership of Assets Toolkit. These are simple guidelines on the various Community Rights and how to use them.  Now David’s exploring ways to enable elderly people to stay independent in their communities longer – they are in good hands”.

Wiltshire’s Community Ownership of Assets Toolkit can be found on Wiltshire Council’s website.  It was jointly produced by Wiltshire Council and Wiltshire CLT. A major contributor to it was Wiltshire CLT member Charles Woodd OBE. Charles is now retired to Salisbury, but he used to be a team leader in the community empowerment division of the Department of Communities and Local Government, where much of his work focussed on the community management and ownership of assets, and the drafting of the Community Rights.

Two of the things that the Toolkit covers are the Community Right to Bid and the Registration of Assets of Community Value.  To date more than 30 Wiltshire communities have registered a range of community assets including 24 pubs, a number of schools, social and youth clubs, village halls and nature reserves, and also a shop, a post office, a library, a doctor’s surgery, a playing field,  and a footpath. Click here to see the list. Rose says “It’s good to see that Wiltshire communities are beginning to develop neighbourhood and village plans that map all the local places, buildings and facilities that are truly valued by local people, and are successfully registering them as Assets of Community Value with Wiltshire Council. This ensures that their importance to those communities is formally recognised.”  If one of these listed assets comes up for sale, the Community Right to Bid delays the selling process to give a community the chance to put together a bit to acquire it.

Wiltshire CLT is now working with Community First to gather experts together for an autumn event for communities that want learn more about owning, developing and managing their own assets for community benefit, including topics like pubs, shops, permanently affordable homes and green spaces. We’ll be sending out a questionnaire in the next few weeks to find out what topics community groups would find the most useful.