Posted by: westlancashirerecord | November 5, 2018

Beacon Park Golf Course In Its Death Throes?

Next week, on 16 November, time will have elapsed on the Breach of Planning Condition Notice E/2015/0223/BCN issued to Serco Leisure Operating Ltd to “Remove all excess material placed on the land hatched black on attached Plan 2 dated 11 May 2018 etc” and signed by the Borough Solicitor.

There being no activity by Serco and/or its sub-contractor Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd  to remove what is probably half of the landfill on the old driving range, the Senior Members of the Beacon Park Golf Club, who play local league competitive golf with great success, face so much disruption to the course as to lose one hole. This in turn would bar the Seniors’ Club from local competition.

Who cares, you might wonder? To repeat what we said recently “Ashurst has 3 Labour councillors; Birch Green has 2 Labour councillors; Digmoor has 2 Labour councillors; Moorside has 2 Labour councillors; Skelmersdale North has 2 Labour councillors; Skelmersdale South has 3 Labour councillors; Tanhouse has 2 Labour councillors. And there are 3 more at Up Holland. That’s 16 Labour councillors for Skelmersdale. How many of them have been to see the current state of the WLBC owned Skelmersdale leisure facility, the Beacon Park Golf Course (BPGC)?

Included in the list above is Cllr Claire Cooper , member for Birch Green, who includes in her declaration of interests membership (a Director) of the West Lancashire Community Leisure Ltd, although she resigned from it on 13 July 2017. But of more interest is the Council role Cllr Cooper holds, that of Portfolio Holder for Communities and Older People.

The Older People’s Portfolio Holder commits to “making sure that the needs, wishes and preferences of older people are fully taken into account. To achieve this – and ensure that older people are at the heart of our council’s activity – we have a dedicated portfolio (area of responsibility), for older people. Cllr Claire Cooper”. The Portfolio Holder leads on voluntary sector grants and older people’s issues, including advising on how to support and encourage active, independent and healthy lives for older people. She is also the Council’s dementia awareness Champion. The portfolio involves raising the profile of older people and their needs, and the development of relevant policy across all service areas. The Portfolio Holder will also act as the Older People’s Champion, encouraging older people to play a full role in policy development and service design, promoting positive images of older people as citizens”.

We’ve been told Cllr Cooper is one of the hardest working councillors in the borough. But it seems strange that being a Skelmersdale councillor she is not apparently involved in the Skelmersdale Beacon Park Golf Course saga on behalf of the Seniors. They have needed the support of a Champion, they try to show positive images of themselves as older citizens, but they have had to resort to sending individual letters to every Borough Director level officer to try to save their local golf course.

Hopefully it isn’t too late for Cllr Cooper to step into the dispute caused by the greed for landfill royalties, supposedly to be used to maintain and improve the course. As the borough Head of Leisure and Cultural Services John Nelson said in August 2015 “The royalties for the materials being brought to site and currently used to re-profile an area of the golf course for a new 9 hole par 3 course are paid to West Lancashire Community Leisure. Details of the royalties and payments are commercially confidential”. You bet they are! And “The operation of the golf course is subject to the scrutiny of the board of Trustees for West Lancashire Community Leisure. The remodelling works which are supported by the planning application were part of a business plan from Serco Leisure Operating Limited and the assessment for the Trustees in taking on the responsibility for the golf course. The operation of the golf course has to be sustainable as the Borough Council does not provide any revenue or capital subsidy to the operation”.

The Leisure Portfolio is also held by a Skelmersdale member, Cllr Yvonne Gagen  for Ashurst. If the golf course really is at risk, who will take responsibility for its demise? We could know in a week, or will a large chunk of political fudge appear, one of those “just in time” rescues?

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