Posted by: westlancashirerecord | May 25, 2018

Is Serco In Breach Of Beacon Park Golf Course Contracts?

In the case of Rosie Cooper MP seen here at BPGC with Club Captain Tommy Jackson v Serco Leisure Operating Limited, some members of the Beacon Park Golf Course have questioned again where have their Skelmersdale councillors been while their course has been screwed for 23,375 loads of landfill fees known as royalties by private developers?

The confirmation from WLBC that they have served a ‘Breach of Condition Notice’ on the management at Beacon Park Golf Course, Serco, is so far not available to the public. It is not published by WLBC on “2011/0787/FUL Partial remodelling of existing golf course and driving range and creation of new nine hole short course. | Beacon Park Golf And Country Club Beacon Lane Dalton”. Perhaps those responsible are feeling the heat of anger from those club members who watched in disbelief while the wagon loads of royalties arrived for private banking after this became this !

In April the Labour Group wrote, of Skelmersdale, that “Under the Tories’ spineless rule, West Lancashire was heading for real decline. The biggest Tory disaster, which Labour is working hard to sort out, has been its utter failure to deliver on the long-promised town centre. After being granted thousands and thousands of pounds of regeneration cash in the early 2000s, the Tories ended up selling the people of Skelmersdale (and West Lancashire) down the river through weak leadership and incompetent contracting; current Tory leader Cllr Westley has even admitted in the Council Chamber that he did not read the contract, but signed it anyway! It turned out that there was no break clause inserted, meaning the ’developer’ had 15 years to decide whether to build anything or not. Labour is picking up the pieces of a development which could and should have been delivered a decade ago, but which has been mired in legal complexity.

Meanwhile, the council’s sports centres and swimming pools were neglected, with no planning for the future. The well-used Skelmersdale sports centre was simply closed and left to rot, then burn down, despite turning an operating profit. And they call themselves the party of business! Similarly, the Tawd Valley Country Park, once the Jewel in the Crown of the new town was left to decline by the Tories, and became associated with anti-social behaviour.

On top of that, growing problems with flooding and road decay were greeted with a political shrug of the shoulders by a Tory administration too busy fighting each other and splitting into different factions and parties to bother with the concerns of West Lancashire residents.

It’s been an uphill struggle, but progress is being made on the town centre, and on sports facilities across the borough, including Skelmersdale. With great support from our MP Rosie Cooper, the council is keeping up its push for the long-awaited and much-needed rail spur into the centre of town. A masterplan has been developed for the revitalisation and long-term management of the Tawd Valley Country Park, and funding applications are being put together by council and community groups in partnership”. No mention of the Beacon Park Golf Course, of these scenes of desecration of its facilities .

In a “Corporate & Environmental Overview & Scrutiny Committee Members Update 2012/13 provided by Relevant Portfolio Holder Councillor D Sudworth and Mr John Nelson, it was noted that following reports to 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. Delegation was approved by Cabinet and Council for the Assistant Director Community Services, in consultation with the Leader and relevant portfolio holder, to enter into and conclude all arrangements for the long-term management arrangements for the golf course.

“The arrangements previously negotiated by DCT for the land drainage work with Oaklands leisure 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”. [WLBC told me “With regard to your question relating to the prospects of future dividends from the development. This will not be evident until the completion of the re profiling and the operation of the new facilities”]

“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. [WLBC told me “With regards to the satisfactory completion of the development work at Beacon Country Park, as you are already aware, the Council has requested that Serco and their partners Oakland’s carry out additional profiling work. I am satisfied that the Council has assisted you with your enquiries on this subject and I now consider this matter closed”]. Far from it sunshine!

“The agreement for the management of the of the golf course will run concurrently with the existing leisure trust partnership agreement terminating on 31st March 2020”.

There’s an interesting word, “trust”. WLBC requested, trusted, Serco and Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd, to carry out additional profiling work. Now, the request has become an order. Is Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd named on the order? Who can tell, until it is published and soon, we hope!

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