“Two meetings have taken place including representatives from West Lancashire Borough Council and Serco. At these meetings the need to carry out further work on both the 9 hole and Foot Golf courses was agreed, which includes re profiling the Foot Golf course. As a consequence, dates for public use have yet to be established”.
With these three sentences above, from the Deputy Director of Leisure & Wellbeing, West Lancashire Borough Council a few days ago, in response to my Freedom of Information Act 2000 request, we have vindication of campaigners against the disgraceful state of the so called 9Hole golf course and the “Himalayas” 80+ feet high “Foot Golf” course, now deemed to be too dangerous to allow people to enter .
It is public confirmation of how “authorised land drainage” at the now ”officially vandalised” Beacon Park Golf Course became “unlimited landfill” for sheer greed. Hopefully the indifference shown to the BPGC and its members by the WLBC and its councillors will now be turned into something positive for the borough.
We only have to walk there and look at the dreadful mess inflicted on it by these cowboy “golf landscapers” to see the effects of what happened in secret after the Cabinet and Council decisions of November/December 2011 “That there be an exemption from the requirement to seek quotations/tenders (Contract Procedure Rules 6 and 7) to allow the arrangements to be put in place…” hiding the apparent double dealing and deception caused by the lack of WLBC’s exercise of due diligence the public were entitled to expect.
While DCT Leisure Limited, favoured leaseholders and managers of the Beacon Park Golf Course, carried on trading while defrauding HMRC of £55,000 of unpaid VAT, incurring £11,551 of unpaid liability for a Former Employee Tribunal Claim, and a further £4,515 for Employee Redundancy, it seems that WLBC was in blissful ignorance of it all even though the DCT 2009 company accounts showed an abysmal state of affairs.
DCT Leisure Limited eventually gave notice and relinquished its lease for the management of Beacon Park Golf Course on 31st December 2011 although official records show WLBC, Serco, and the West Lancashire Community Leisure Trust had been “busy interpreting the new contract proposal and its impact to the new current contract” for the previous twelve months. Following reports to WLBC Cabinet (15th November 2011) and Council (14th December 2011) interim arrangements were put in place with West Lancashire Community Leisure Trust and the trust partners Serco Leisure Operating Limited to undertake temporary arrangement for the management of the golf course.
What follows here is a reminder of the origins of the mess we see today. “An assessment undertaken by Serco indicated that the finance position of the golf course would improve under a trust arrangement, providing savings for rates (NNDR) and improvement towards VAT payments. However the underlying trend of reduced memberships would need to be reversed together with improvement across casual income lines in order to ensure long term viability.
“The arrangements previously negotiated by DCT for the land drainage work with Oaklands leisure [Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd] provided an opportunity to improve facilities, retain or increase future membership and increase income. Serco have now concluded their discussions with Oaklands Leisure and have been able to project a positive financial position in future years. However the initial years of the improvement works will require Serco to cover operating losses.
“Serco have proposed a surplus income share arrangement. They have not included any management fees in the cost of the operation and have agreed to absorb any losses incurred within the golf course arrangement during the contract period. The surplus income share is based on 1/3rds (thirds) distributed equally to West Lancashire Borough Council, West Lancashire Community Leisure Trust, and Serco Leisure Operating Limited.
“The proposal includes investment into the golf course and facilities; reshaping of the landform to enhance existing golf holes and practice facilities and create a new 9 hole short course; remodelled driving range outfield and target greens; provision to enhance internal facilities in the golf club house and entrance area. The work is to be phased in over two years 2013-15 and has an estimated investment/enhancement value for the golf course of approximately £500,000”.
Perhaps those among you who walk yourselves and your dogs in response to Christmas holiday food extravagance might venture to the Beacon Park Golf Course and see these amazing creations yourselves, while wondering, like me, about the full contents of the minutes of the two meetings, and an outline of the timescale for the work required on the 9hole course, which as far as I have seen was recently being marked out for holes etc? As for the re-profiling of the Foot Golf Course, it will be an enormous project given the extreme height of it and we need to know where the landfill will be removed to and at whose expense? Does this proposed re-profiling need a variation of the existing planning permission? The original Foot Golf landfill was undertaken by Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd as the planning permission holder. Is it the case that they will now re-profile it and what is the timescale?
But above all else, where is the money, where are the “royalties”, and what use has been made of them, that were the incentive for such a desecration of this borough asset?