Mirfield Community Centre – Scrutiny Call-In
Our Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee held a meeting in Huddersfield Town Hall on Wednesday 18 November 2015 to review a decision on the asset transfer of Mirfield Community Centre.
The Council’s Cabinet made the original decision on the 20 October 2015. The decision said that if an asset transfer took place resulting in the sale of the building at a later date, then a legal covenant on the building would ensure it would continue to be available for community use.
Six councillors made a formal request for the scrutiny panel to review the decision.
What were the concerns?
The specific concerns raised were that:
- The decision failed to take full account of the Asset Advancement Policy set by Cabinet on 08 October 2013.
- That other asset transfers have not been subject to covenants, which was said to be applied to all transfers, and is not reflected in the Asset Advancement Policy.
- That the decision made by Cabinet beached the council’s decision making principles
- That the decision may have been pre-determined as the cabinet member’s recommendation appeared on the report, before all consultation had been received. Therefore, the Cabinet Member was not in possession of all the facts when making his recommendation/judgement.
The panels findings
At the meeting, the panel studied all relevant background information and heard from Cabinet Members and council officers as well as those opposed to the decision, including other councillors and members of the public.
It was the Committee’s view that the report to Cabinet did not sufficiently reflect the flexibility of the Asset Advancement Policy and were concerned that the Cabinet had not explored all alternatives.
They also felt that there was no evidence to show that the decision took into account whether it was feasible and desirable to let the covenant to be released on sale – so that the proceeds were available for the ongoing project to develop the Gilder Hall site.
The Committee found that other asset transfers had been subject to covenants and adequately reflected the Asset Advancement Policy and were satisfied that there was no evidence of pre-determination of the decision.
In light of the above findings, the Committee concluded that the report should be referred back to Cabinet with a recommendation for amendment. The amendment would allow consideration of the feasibility and desirability of entering into an agreement/arrangement that would enable the covenant to be released on sale. The proceeds could then be used specifically for the ongoing project to develop the Gilder Hall site.
The scrutiny recommendations will be considered at a future meeting of the Cabinet.
More information on the Mirfield Community Centre Call-in
A copy of the call-in notice and the full decision notice can be viewed on the Council’s Democracy website: www.kirklees.gov.uk/scrutinycallin
Decision of call-in: https://democracy.kirklees.gov.uk/ieDecisionDetails.aspx?ID=1159