MPs question community 'right to buy' promise

By James Wilmore

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Westminster system Greg mulholland

A coalition pledge to give communities the "right to buy" local assets, such as pubs, is being ignored, a senior Labour MP has claimed. Caroline...

A coalition pledge to give communities the "right to buy" local assets, such as pubs, is being ignored, a senior Labour MP has claimed.

Caroline Flint, shadow communities secretary, hit out at the government's Localism Bill for failing to deliver promises to protect community facilities, during a five-hour debate on the Bill in Parliament on Monday.

"There is no right of first refusal, there is no right to a fair price, and there is no help for communities seeking to save local assets that the Secretary of State's cuts threaten with closure," she told MPs.

Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland also questioned the substance of the "community right to buy" promise.

"We are not currently talking about a community right to buy," he said. "Let us be honest: what we are talking about is a community right to try - to try to buy a pub and put it together.

"Once a community has a realistic and fully backed bid at market value, the owner has no obligation to sell it to the community."

Mulholland argued there should be a six-month moratorium whenever a community pub is threatened, "to allow not only the local community to express an interest, but also the sitting tenant and other companies".

He also called on the government to change planning law to close a loophole which allows a pub to be demolished without planning permission.

Plans to close this loophole are included in a private members Bill, tabled by MP Nigel Adams, which was due to have its second reading on Friday (January 21).

But Greg Clark, decentralisation minister, concluded the debate, saying the Localism Bill would "give power to councils, power to communities, power to voluntary groups and power to the people, in the knowledge that the more powerful the people are, the stronger our society is."

The Bill is now being scrutinised by a parliamentary committee and is taking written public evidence, which can be emailed to: scrutiny@parliament.uk

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