Stephen Williams MP on Saving Pubs, Stadiums and Community Assets


Bristol West MP and Localism Minister, Stephen Williams, has been encouraging communities up and down the country to make use of "assets of community value" to protect their towns and have a real say over what is done in their area.

Speaking on the Daily Politics, Stephen Wiliams spoke about "community rights" and how they work, during a discussion on football stadiums and pub closures, explaining how they can be kept open.

Over the past decade communities have been losing local amenities and buildings of great importance to them. On average nearly 300 pubs and 400 village shops have closed each year. Over the same period community asset ownership has been growing, delivering real benefits for many communities. Assets of community value give communities a right to identify a building or other land that they believe to be of importance to their area's social well-being. The aim is that, if the asset comes up for sale, then they will be given a fair chance to make a bid to buy it on the open market.

During a visit to look at sites in Oxfordshire, Stephen Williams said:

"Football stadiums are just like pubs, they are often at the centre of people's communities, bringing people of all backgrounds together. It's important for supporters to be able to protect their clubs.

"Thame was one of the first places in the country to vote on a neighbourhood plan. In 2012 Residents planned and drafted where they wanted new homes and a school to be built. They prevented over 700 houses being built, mostly as a mass-development site outside of their town. They have said they prefer to spread the houses across and around the town.

"People are at the heart of their community, without them there's no shops, no local pub or even a football stadium. But now the government has given people a real chance to shape their own communities and their own future. They can list assets of community value; they can develop their own town plan. So people are now in charge of shaping how they want their community to look and they want it to be developed for their children's future. Surely that is a good thing?"

As the MP for Bristol, Stephen Williams has given his support to the Old Market Quarter Neighbourhood Development Plan. He wrote the forward for their consultation, which can be found here.

A full video of the visit was originally posted on the BBC Politics webpage, here.


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