MP Rosie Cooper made a visit to the Beacon Park Golf Course today to support the Senior Golfers who face the loss of the course and their participation in competitive events due to the ineptitude and inefficiency of Serco Leisure Services Ltd. Seen here with Rosie, the Club Captain Mike Collins and the Seniors wrote to senior officers of West Lancashire Borough Council to outline their concerns. They wrote “This is a letter of complaint about the illegal landfill situation at Beacon Park Golf Club and Serco’s plans to remove it and place it on the golf course. I can clearly state that if the excess landfill is allowed to be put on the existing course it will be the death of Beacon Park Golf Club.
“We, Beacon Park Golf Club, currently have three teams which compete in local competitions against local golf clubs. A five man team, a thirteen man team and a Seniors team. All with varying degrees of success. The rules of the competitions in which they take part quite clearly state that it should be over 18 holes, over a measured course, under CONGU rules and with players who have CONGU handicaps.
“It is Serco’s intention to alter certain aspects of the course during the period of moving landfill. This will alter the length of the course, change the stroke index, possibly reduce the course to less than 18 holes and generally cause havoc with golfers being asked to play games amongst lorries, dumper trucks and bulldozers.
“It would NOT be possible to play any competitive competitions as the course would not meet the CONGU requirements of a measured course, all members handicaps would become inaccurate and illegal which would prevent them also from taking part in competitions at other clubs. The backbone of golf fixtures, both home and away, for all club members would be wiped away in a single stroke. This situation would be for a minimum of at least a full year. The course itself would take much longer to repair itself and return to its previous state.
“The captain of the Seniors team that competes in the South West Lancs Seniors league will be attending a meeting next week to confirm the fixture dates and times for matches next season. As you know it is a league which Beacon Seniors won last year. The captain cannot attend this meeting without informing the other seven clubs involved in the league about the situation that exists at Beacon Park Golf Club. If the landfill takes place, Beacon Seniors will not be allowed to compete in the league next season and defend their title. The course does not meet the rules of the competition.
“The senior members (who form over 60% of the club membership) would leave the club and seek to play golf elsewhere. Other members involved in competitive golf against other clubs would be denied golfing opportunities and seek to play elsewhere.
“Even the most loyal of members who perhaps just play social golf will not tolerate such a situation and seek to play golf elsewhere. There are many other local golf clubs to choose from. Whilst Serco may be working hard with West Lancashire Borough Council in an attempt to minimise the disruption to the course and its members it is too little and too late! I reiterate again that putting the excess landfill onto the course will be the death of Beacon Park Golf Club. The vast majority of loyal members could not play golf in such circumstances and would leave. It is a situation from which the Golf club would never recover. It is a sad situation.
“The reality is that Rupert Soames and his Serco employees have created this sad situation through gross mismanagement, incompetence and financial greed. They, along with Oakland Golf and Leisure have profited handsomely from the landfill situation and we, the golf club members, are left to pick up the pieces. A situation will occur which discriminates against the youth and elderly. The par 3 nine hole course (the other illegal landfill situation at Beacon Park) is a joke and a health and safety hazard. It is unplayable and local youths will not be able to use. The ‘Seniors Section’ will have to move to alternative golf clubs with increased fees and travelling costs.
“The number of houses available in the Skelmersdale area continues to rise rapidly but recreational facilities continue to shrink. Is this not a concern for the planning department? Please can we have some common sense applied to the current situation?
“Whilst mistakes have been made is it not within the imagination of a really qualified planning department to come up with a solution that does not destroy a 34 year old golf club that was once rated in the top 10 municipal courses in the country. There is a huge drop at the end of the landfilled driving range which, if filled, would reduce the height of the landfill considerably. Could it not be flattened and made into further nature reserves which dog walkers could enjoy and local schools take educational advantage of. If flattened, we have a juniors section that could take advantage of the space to practice chipping and playing on. If flattened it could possibly be used for a football golf course.
“If Serco fails to comply with the notice to remove the excess landfill I am led to believe that they will automatically be convicted and fined £2,500. Can we not let this follow its course then start to rethink the situation and involve the people being affected by the decision, ie the Golf Club Members?
“We, the members, have no political axe to grind. We care passionately about our golf course and enjoy the recreational and social facilities it provides. No matter how well it is done, if the planning department insists on Serco being allowed to dump the landfill on our course it would, I repeat, be the death of Beacon Park Golf Club. It would not matter if the course was like Royal Birkdale in three years time, the resulting chaos, uncertainty and disruption would drive away members and create a situation from which Beacon would never recover.
“Please listen to the voices and opinions of the members, their friends and families. It is a disastrous path that the planning department is following and one which could be easily avoided”.
Visitors to the golf course today might wonder what this picture depicts? Having dumped the landfill all over the driving range Serco provided these “driving cages” instead. But such is the farcical situation that the cages are unsafe. Golf balls driven against the metal frame have rebounded to the club house and hit the windows. The tapes depict “Health and Safety risk, do not use this facility”.