Posted by: westlancashirerecord | November 1, 2018

Members’ Frustration Grows At Beacon Park Golf Course Mess

As we reported, West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper met with golfers  at Beacon Park Golf Course on Friday to hear of their continued frustration with Serco. Of concern to every council tax payer in West Lancashire, owners of the Beacon Park Golf Course, is what Rosie Cooper refers to, that “The council did not properly supervise Serco and their sub-contractors [Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd] during the contract to re-profile parts of the course”. How could they? Where was the WLBC Land Surveyor, a job that encompasses surveys of landfill sites, mines and quarries?

Rosie writes “Members are concerned, following West Lancashire Borough Council’s serving of a breach of condition notice to Serco, that further disruption will be caused to the club and the course. The Breach of Condition Notice is set to force Serco to move the rubble from its current location on the old driving range to another part of the golf course, which could change the course spec.

“The Seniors in particular, who last year won the league, believe this will scupper any chance they have of competing in this year’s South West Lancashire League, as alterations made will mean the course specifications may not meet CONGU (Council Of National Golf Unions) rules.

“The members have long suffered because they believe the council did not properly supervise Serco and their sub contractors during the contract to re-profile parts of the course which has led to mountains of rubble being dumped, here, illegally, along the first fairway . The members may now be faced with being unable to compete in the CONGU league if the course is reduced as some holes are unplayable as rubble is being transferred to another part of the course.

“The message from the golfers is clear, that they do not want any further disruption, and if Serco have breached their planning conditions by filling the mounds too high then it is their responsibility to remove it from the course altogether and pay for its disposal elsewhere.

“After all, it is not the golf club members nor West Lancashire Borough Council taxpayers who have benefited from the money paid to dump rubble at the golf course. The council now need to work with Serco and the members to come up with a solution whereby they will not be in breach of their planning conditions and where the members are not further penalised”.

Beacon Park Golf Cub Seniors Captain, Mike Collins said “All we want is for an end to the many years of messing around from Serco and the Council and let us get back to what we enjoy and do well, playing golf. We are grateful for Rosie’s support in this and coming up to meet with our members really meant a lot to show that someone actually cares about the way this whole situation has been mishandled. Hopefully Serco and the Council can come to some conclusion now which means we can get on with preparations for the season ahead”.

Various estimates of how much royalty income the landfill generated have been made. Serco hides it within the guise of “Commercial in Confidence”. But that probably only applies to its 15 year contract for leisure services and not to the Beacon Park Golf Course. But if it did, and does, then the Borough Council has breached its own legal obligations to undertake due diligence of the financial aspects of the landfill.

In July 2017 I asked “Will West Lancashire Borough Council a) confirm by independent professional assessment that the existing uncompleted 9Hole short course referred to does not exceed the permitted 168mAOD (average height) of all its mounds and ridges and b) will West Lancashire Borough Council disclose the latest expected date for the 9Hole short course completion and use by the public?”

I was told “In response, I can confirm that a survey of the site has confirmed that the mounds and ridges of the 9 hole short hole course does not exceed 168m AOD”.

On 15 August 2017 I asked the Council “to publish the detailed site survey including the date undertaken” and asked if the surveyor was independent of WLBC. In response to that request, Mr Harrison confirmed that the survey was carried out by an independent survey company in June 2017. “He informed you that the Council does not propose to publish the survey as there is no requirement to do so, but to assist you he provided a copy of the survey to you”.

So helpful, you might think? “The survey was undertaken on behalf of the Council in June 2017 by Survey Operations, which is a local independent survey company. The Council does not propose to “publish” the survey drawing as there is no requirement to do so. I have however attached for your information a PDF copy of the survey drawing which details spot heights across the site”. I replied “Your response to my request for a sight of the survey drawing, that you then claim is not a council requirement, is frankly uncalled for. A spot height survey is not something residents like me can relate to in terms of massive landfill on a golf course. This course is a public asset, not one reserved to officers for responses such as yours”.

Here is the survey . Make of it what you will, hopefully more than I did. We do know that WLBC employs District Surveyors, they pay for their training. But the “Spending Above £500 July to September 2017” shows the Beacon Park Golf Course Survey by Survey Operations Ltd cost taxpayers £1,220 in the borough Leisure and Wellbeing Account. For a pink  shape!

As Rosie Cooper would say, this Beacon Park Golf Course landfill “does not pass the sniff test” . Time to involve the Local Government Minister?  Probably!

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