Posted by: westlancashirerecord | November 7, 2018

The Council Sympathises With Golf Club Members About Their Concerns

A WLBC statement to the Champion  starts with those words above. It’s a momentous statement. The concerns of Senior Golf Club Members have led to letters being sent to all WLBC Senior Management. The golfers have had no expression of sympathy before today!

The Champion has picked up the story that Beacon Park golfers fear course alterations could scupper competition hopes. But it misses the point that landfill that started with WLBC permission 7 years ago has altered the course indescribably, when WLBC gave permission for 23,375 lorry loads, total landfill 187,000 cubic metres, to create a 9hole junior course and partially remodel the existing course and the driving range. Nowhere does planning permission allow for the obliteration of the driving range.

“In respect of application number 2011/0787/FUL received on 13 July 2011 and in pursuance of its powers under the above-mentioned Act and Order, West Lancashire Borough Council as Local Planning Authority, having considered your application, hereby grants permission for: Partial remodelling of existing golf course and driving range and creation of new nine hole short course at Beacon Park Golf And Country Club, Beacon Lane, Dalton”.

“I can confirm that a planning approval was granted for the work to the golf course. The planning approval specified the type of materials, site access arrangements and delivery times for the materials to be brought to site. The planning reference is 2011/0787/FUL. Details of environmental conditions are contained in the planning permission. Top soil was not included in the planning permission; top soil was to be re-used on site no allowance was made for the importation of additional top soil.

“Estimates for the total hardcore infill were included in the planning application. The details were split into 4 phases, not all the phases have been started and from discussions with the operating partners for West Lancashire Community Leisure (Serco Leisure Operating Limited), it is unlikely that phase 1 and phase 4 will now take place”.

John Nelson Head of Leisure and Cultural Services West Lancashire Borough Council Council wrote “Planning officers and officers from the Environment Agency both undertake monitoring functions in relation to the site. The planning officers in relation to the general conditions under the planning approval and the Environment Agency in relation to the permit and licence for Oaklands Leisure Limited for the importation of materials on to the site.

“I also have a responsibility as the land falls under the leisure provision for the Council. Although the facilities are leased to West Lancashire Community Leisure [Serco controlled] the land and buildings belong to the Borough Council.

“I retain a dialogue with Planning Officers and the Environment Agency to keep an overview of the development works and meet with the Trustees for West Lancashire Community Leisure (Leisure Trust) and their operating partner Serco Leisure Operating Limited”.

Chapter and verse from John Nelson. Some overview, that allowed the situation faced by Senior Golfers, casual players, and course staff to develop as it has, and some dialogue, that allowed Planning Officers and the Environment Agency to “keep an overview of the development works and meet with the Trustees for West Lancashire Community Leisure (Leisure Trust) and their operating partner Serco Leisure Operating Limited”. Did all that mean what it claims, in which case why has WLBC issued proceedings against Serco Leisure Operating Ltd that expire one week from today?

And why has Serco told the Champion “Serco have been working closely with the council for some months…”. But Serco didn’t need to work with the council to comply, they just needed to get rid of the excess landfill. Why should it remain on the course at all?

And there’s the rub. The incoming landfill royalties were received by Serco, as we were told in a public meeting, and have been disposed of without public trace, although Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd accounts are obtainable via a legal route. But there are NO landfill emptying out royalties, so Serco just wants them dumped to remain on the course. Cheap job, ruin the first fairway, close competition golf, Senior golfers leave and take their annual membership fees with them as they join other, professional courses.

The final chapter of the Serco statement “Unfortunately there will be some disruption to the facilities when the re-profiling work gets under way, which we very much regret, but every effort will be made to minimise interference so that the course remains viable at all times”.

If this WLBC, stuffed with Skelmersdale elected members, falls for this utter bullshit  then heaven help us if they apply these standards of contract conditions to any others.


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