Simplified subsidised lease policy will help community groups

Fife Council has agreed a new lease policy that will make it easier for community groups to lease council land and buildings.

Councillors on the Assets and Corporate Services Committee today agreed a new policy that will standardise subsidised leases, making the process more manageable and equitable for Fife's community groups and organisations.

There are currently a number of community groups who lease buildings from the council but the terms of the lease are historic and individual and therefore, inconsistent. The term of the new policy will create standardised pricing while making it much easier for local groups to take over the running of community assets and buildings. There will be a two-tier system where sports clubs, grounds and pitches will have prices standardised and leases relating to community facilities, halls and centres will be determined by an assessment of community benefit.

Councillor Craig Walker, Convener of the Assets and Corporate Services Committee, said: "We understand how important these local groups are in supporting and sustaining local communities. We want to make it easier for them to work with us and it is through our engagement and collaboration with these groups that we have been able to create a policy which will help us to sustain these relationships."

Elected Members prioritised the following:
* a consistent and transparent approach to subsidised leases across the council;
* a focus on principles and a framework for assessment versus strict criteria;
* a consistent positive engagement and supportive response from the council in relation to subsidised leases and their preparation;
* that the community benefit arising from the lease is the main priority;
* that the council should be providing this support as core business and not recharging costs of officer time to community groups.

Cllr Walker continued: "The policy will begin immediately for any new leases. For those groups who already have a lease with us, we will be mindful of any change that might impact them and there will be a transition period taking account of the individual circumstances.

"Ultimately, we want community groups to be able to work more easily with us and make sure that we are not putting any unnecessary financial or administrative hurdles in their way. We appreciate the services that they are able to offer, particularly in smaller, more rural or disadvantaged communities and want to help them continue to provide these."