Communities Bill Set To Be Passed

MSPs are expected to pass legislation aimed at handing more power to communities.

The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill is intended to simplify and extend community right-to-buy legislation, and introduce a new right to buy neglected or abandoned land, even if the owner is unwilling to sell it.

It aims to make it easier for local groups to take control of public assets such as community centres or areas of land, community empowerment minister Marco Biagi has said.

The Community Ownership Support Service (COSS), which helps groups and local authorities transfer buildings or land assets, will see its funding increased to £400,000 over the next year.

The funding will help the organisation support the implementation of the new legislation.

Mr Biagi said: "Every community across the country has a building or area of land that could be transformed if local people were in control.

"This funding will help communities realise their ambitions and find a way to improve their areas by injecting life into an old office block or wasteground.

"Taking over land or buildings can give communities the opportunity to protect services that might otherwise have been lost, it can provide jobs, training and opportunities to generate income or allow groups to refurbish and make alterations to buildings they already use.

"COSS has already supported nearly 50 asset transfers across Scotland and through this funding and the work of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill, I know even more communities will benefit.

"This Bill is a momentous step in our drive to give people a stronger voice in the decisions that matter to them.''

"The Bill will give communities more rights to take over land in both urban and rural areas, provide protection for allotments, introduce new powers to transform abandoned or derelict land and opportunities to be involved in decisions around the delivery of services, community safety, healthcare or education from day one.''

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