Local authorities are being urged by the Government to publish asset lists identifying land and buildings that could be managed more rationally, potentially saving millions of pounds.
The Department for Communities and Local Government has drawn up a ‘demo’ map which identifies over 180,000 assets owned by almost 600 public sector organisations, including central Government and 87 councils.
The administration said this highlighted widespread public property ownership, well beyond the requirements of frontline services.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles wants public bodies to establish publish registers of all buildings and land owned.
He has argued that the public has a right to see the sheer scale and variety of public sector asset wealth, which in some cases include pubs, farms and sports clubs.
The map revealed that public bodies owned over 130 cafes and restaurants, more than 100 pubs, around 60 theatres, over 40 hotels (including three Holiday Inns), about 20 cinemas, one airport (at Southend), nearly 100 golf courses and 30 sports stadiums.
Results from 11 council-led pilot projects, known as capital and assets pathfinders, found that on average 20 per cent savings could be made by rationalising public assets or co-locating local services based on customer needs.
Pickles said: "We need to know, now more than ever, exactly what assets are publicly owned. The general public probably has no idea of the sheer scale and scope of property and land on the public sector's books. In many cases it goes way beyond traditional frontline services.
"I want the public sector to take a good hard look at what they own. By cataloguing each and every asset councils can help Government find innovative new ways to utilise them, improve local services, and keep council running costs down and save taxpayers' money.
"This asset information also holds huge potential for local communities, offering an at a glance way to find that new meeting place or rescue the derelict tennis court round the corner."
11 August 2011