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National park authority should listen to government advice and sell Sedbergh building to community

June 28, 2011 10:49 AM

Tim in SedberghLocal MP Tim Farron has written to the government formally asking them to lay out their position on buildings sold for community use.

The move comes following a much-criticised decision by the Yorkshire Dales NPA to put the building at 72 Main Street in Sedbergh on the open market, instead of allowing the community to purchase it at a lower cost. The building, from which the national park authority used to run a tourist information centre, now hosts the Sedbergh Community Offices and a volunteer-led TIC.

When national park authority members made their decision in May they voiced concern that Defra would criticise or sanction them for not getting the full value for the asset. This goes contrary to comments by decentralisation minister Greg Clark who recently said: "authorities should take seriously any requests for help in saving assets such as pubs, piers and markets. Councils should use compulsory purchase powers to help charities buy buildings and turn them into community resources, according to the latest guidance from the Communities and Local Government department." Tim has written to Defra to ask for a concrete answer.

If Defra say that valuable community assets can be sold to community groups at a lower price this will mean the community campaign to buy the building could take a major step forward. Local community group Sedbergh Townscape Initiative had raised £60,000 to purchase the building.

Tim is campaigning to persuade the national park authority to back the community bid and save the building for the people of Sedbergh.

Tim said: "I have written to Defra to clear this matter up. When this is cleared up I hope we can move a major step forward to keeping the property in community hands. The Townscape Initiative have raised a significant amount of money and I hope that their bid is looked at in a serious way to keep this vital resource available to the people of Sedbergh."