Wiltshire Council says it has no new public asset sales planned despite discussions in government which suggest councils could be encouraged to sell publicly owned buildings.

This change is being considered in Michael Gove’s department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to provide councils with more flexibility amid the current economic crisis in local government.

Public assets in local authorities refer to the resources owned or managed by the authorities to meet the needs of their communities.

The assets are maintained through means such as taxes, grants and borrowing.

Wiltshire Council has over a thousand assets across the county listed on a publicly available register, from libraries and schools to community centres and car parks.

In the past, the council has adopted what it calls a strategic approach to managing its assets, which has involved consolidating activities and services where appropriate, and either finding other uses for surplus assets or disposing of them.

According to the council, capital receipts generated by the sale of assets have been reinvested in refurbishing, rebuilding, or constructing new property assets and improving infrastructure in the county.

It also notes that engaging with town and parish councils and other groups to transfer assets to the community has enhanced the provision of services and decision-making a local level.

Wiltshire Council has reported that the current government discussions around an easing of the rules relating to public assets are not due to affect its approach.

Councillor Phil Alford, cabinet member for strategic assets and asset transfer said: “Wiltshire Council has an extensive asset base and in order to manage these assets in an efficient way, active asset management principles are used, this means that the council will continue to make strategic purchases and sales of assets in order to meet its statutory, service delivery and business needs and to manage its assets in the most effective way. 

“In addition, the council already benefits from freedoms provided by the government on the use of capital receipts derived from asset sales in order to deliver transformation and efficiency outcomes. 

“No new asset sales are planned at this time based on the announcement referenced."

He added: “The council is proposing a balanced budget for financial year 2024/25 and 2025/26 without the need to fund ongoing service spend either from reserves or through capital receipts, other than the already prescribed one-off transformational activity.”