CORN Exchange campaigners in St Ives may bid to buy the disused listed 19th century building to return it to community use. Nick Dibben, co-chairman of Action Corn Exchange, which has lost its fight to dissuade the town council from selling the historic building to the highest bidder, said the group could seek backing from a local business to restore the structure for a combination of commercial and community use. The council decided on May 2 to put the Corn Exchange on the market - it claims it would fetch nearly £1million - rather than give it to a trust, along with more than £500,000 already collected from Council Tax payers for its restoration. And a new move by Communities and Local Government Secretary Ruth Kelly yesterday (Tuesday) gave ACE new hope that the fight was not yet lost. Under the scheme, disused public buildings owned by councils could be sold off for as little as £1, with central government providing additional funding to restore them to community use. It would also give councils a new responsibility to identify unused property which could benefit the community. Ms Kelly is to set up a £30 million fund to support pilot projects. Ms Kelly was speaking on the publication of a report by Lewisham Council chief executive Barry Quirk, which argues that transferring public assets to communities not only leads to more responsive services but also promotes strong communities with a confident civic spirit. Local authorities already have a duty to look after their own estate and have powers to sell or lease assets at below market prices, compulsorily purchase derelict property or require landowners to clean up sites that are adversely affecting local neighbourhoods.