Karen Allen

I fought South Shields at the May 2010 General Election for the Conservatives, gaining a 6.4% swing which was a 4% vote increase. The Conservatives polled 7,886 up from 5,207 in 2005. I was born in the North East and grew up in South Shields. I currently live in London and am employed as a Director at Lloyd's Broker Howden International.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

New Conservative plans to help local people save and run community facilities - Conservatives to help protect post offices, pubs, libraries & parks

Radical new powers will be given to local residents to protect community assets from closure and allow local people to take over the running of public buildings and community assets, Caroline Spelman announced in a Party Political Broadcast which coincided with the Queen’s Speech. New policies were unveiled to create a ‘Community Right to Buy’ and allow not-for-profit community groups to take over the running of struggling local facilities, from post offices to pubs to parks.

These new powers will help protect thousands of buildings owned by town halls and other public bodies, including libraries, lidos, playgrounds, parks, schools and sports facilities. And in a bold new step, community groups will be given first refusal to take over and run failing local pubs, shops or post offices, which would devastate the local community if they were to close their doors.

New Conservative analysis has revealed that under Labour there are 5,400 fewer post offices across England, 200 fewer libraries and 3,500 fewer pubs (in net terms). Gordon Brown promised to promote community ownership when he became Labour leader, yet his own town hall watchdog, the Audit Commission, has criticised the ‘limited’ transfer of assets to community groups and the failure to meet the Government’s ‘aspirations’. Under new Conservative plans:

· Community groups, such as schools, churches or voluntary groups, will be able to bid to take over the running of publicly owned community assets, if they can manage the facility more efficiently and effectively than the state.

· When a state-owned community asset faces closure or being sold, voluntary groups will have a right of first refusal to bid and buy that asset for a fair price and maintain it for community use. The rights to community ownership will extend across assets owned by central government and quangos, not just town halls.

· The radical ‘Community Right to Buy’ will also allow community group first refusal to take over and run commercially-owned community assets that are closing, for example those post offices, pubs and shops whose continued survival is of genuine importance to the local community.


Under Labour, local neighbourhoods have lost access to essential local services and facilities. Gordon Brown’s Government has closed post offices and driven local pubs into the ground. People feel powerless to stop their communities losing access to vital services and facilities. Conservatives will give bold new powers to local people to protect and improve their much-loved community assets and preserve the social fabric of their neighbourhoods.

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