Campaigners want Worthing council to reconsider selling land around Cissbury Ring
Local councils in England are estimated to have collective assets of more than £250bn.
According to the government, by selling off some of this, councils could realise £20bn over the next 10 years.
But plans by various councils to dispose of these assets have run up against plenty of opposition.
Residents argue that these belong to the community and should not be sold just to plug a hole in council finances.
That £250bn is made up of all sorts of things. Mostly it is buildings - council houses, town halls, schools, playing fields, libraries and parks.
But sometimes it is rather more unexpected assets.
For decades, Worthing Borough Council has been the proud owner of acres of farmland around Cissbury Ring. It was being leased to a tenant farmer who subsequently died, and now the Conservative-led council is keen to sell it.
Unfortunately, the land is also popular with residents and ramblers. And Worthing's plans are definitely not popular with them.
So hundreds of locals took to the fields in gales and rain last weekend to make their feelings clear - they want the land to stay in public ownership.
Dave Bangs: Councils hold assets in trust
Dave Bangs was one of those protesting, and he told the Politics Show:
"The council should see themselves as the guardians, the stewards, the temporary managers of the land that they will hand on to their grandchildren. "
That's the only way we can treat this land."
It reflects a perhaps slightly outmoded view that assets held in common hold a value beyond the cash you could get by selling them.
Then again, with hundreds turning out to protest, and braving pretty foul weather to do it, perhaps not so outmoded after all.
At any rate, the council is now reconsidering its decision.
Another council with "family silver" to flog is down the coast in Southampton.
The City Council boasts quite an art collection, but reckons some of it may be surplus to its requirements.
Sadly some of it forms part of a bequest, the Chipperfield Trust, of which councillors are only the trustees.
Now it may seem strange to imagine a time when anyone would be keen to bequeath anything to the local council, but under the terms of this particular bequest, if parts of the collection are sold off then the money has to be used to buy more art.
Which is a bit of a facer when, as here, you were hoping to use the money to help fund a new heritage centre.
But councillors think they may have found a way - and follow closely, this is a bit complicated.
Follow the money
In addition to the Chipperfield Trust, the council also owns a fair amount of art in its own right which it can do with whatever it wants.
So firstly, the council would sell the artworks as originally planned. Then it would take that money and use it to buy some more pieces from its own collection.
The Trust would have lost some pieces but gained others, and the council would have raised money to put towards its heritage centre.
All legal - it is called "self dealing" and needs the approval of the Attorney General - but the Labour group on the council claims it is "questionable".
Again, the sale is currently on hold pending an exploration of other ways of raising the money.
Pressed for cash
What both these examples show is that councils are coming under more and more pressure to dispose of assets.
This is to help plug holes in the public finances, maintain services, or provide facilities they could otherwise not afford.
And it has to be admitted that £20bn over 10 years probably sounds quite attractive.
But do we want councils to be selling off what are after all community assets? Do we really want to lose playing fields, artworks or parks?
Would we shed as many tears if a few town halls went on the market?
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