Posted by: westlancashirerecord | January 24, 2019

Dodgy Serco Leisure Golf Contracts

The history of Serco’s  propensity for dodgy dealing during the Beacon Park Golf Course landfill “development” is well known. It spread to the annual contracts of members which changed without disclosure of the terms and conditions. So inevitably we used the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to bring light into the darkness? Wrong, the glow of transparency turned into the fog of denial. Read the exchanges below.

3 December 2018 via WhatDoTheyKnow

“Serco Leisure has written to Beacon Park Golf Club members advising them of changes to membership contract terms and conditions to take effect from 1 December 2018. Members have been referred to a westlancsleisure.com website which does not respond and the terms and conditions are still unknown. Will WLBC Leisure Department intervene to publish the new terms and conditions on the WLBC website rather than expect golf club members to rely on Serco Leisure for this vital information?”

21 December 2018 WLBC response

“Thank you for your email of 4th December 2018 where you requested information on the changes to terms and conditions to membership contract terms at Beacon Park Golf Club being instigated by SERCO Leisure. Unfortunately the Council does not hold this information and I would suggest that you contact SERCO Leisure direct for further details. If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the right to ask for an internal review…etc and ask Simon Burnett, Deputy Director of Leisure and Wellbeing”.

Also 21 December 2018

“I am writing to request an internal review of West Lancashire District Council’s handling of my FOI request ‘Beacon Park Golf Course Membership Contracts’. Your response refers me to Serco for the answer in respect of Beacon Park Golf Course membership contracts. Serco is merely a leisure provider for West Lancashire Borough Council. Leisure policies including golf for Senior members are the responsibility of the Borough that pays Serco an annual contract of circa £1million for efficient and affordable leisure facilities for residents of West Lancashire. Please review your response accordingly”.

23 January 2019 WLBC Response

“Freedom of Information Request 2018 / 885 – Request for Internal Review. In response to your email dated 21st December 2018 which requests an internal review of West Lancashire District Council’s handling of your FOI request entitled ‘Beacon Park Golf Course Membership Contracts’ ref 2018 / 885. In completing this review I have referred to your original request along with the response provided by Steve Kent on 21st December 2018. In your original request you made reference to “changes to membership contract terms and conditions to take effect from 1 December 2018”. You continued to ask “will WLBC Leisure Department intervene to publish the new terms and conditions on the WLBC website rather than expect golf club members to rely on Serco Leisure for this vital information”.

“You were subsequently advised by Steve Kent that the Council does not hold the information referred to in your request, namely “changes to membership contract terms and conditions to take effect from 1 December 2018”. The Freedom of Information Act only relates to recorded information held by public authorities. WLBC does not hold the information you have requested and therefore it is not possible to publish the terms and conditions on the WLBC website. Furthermore the membership contract terms and conditions form an agreement between the applicant and Serco and WLBC are not party to this agreement. It would therefore not be appropriate to publish this information on the WLBC website. For the reasons stated above I am satisfied that your request for information was handled correctly. In order to assist you and having discussed this matter with Serco, I can confirm that membership new terms and conditions are available via the following link:-https://www.westlancsleisure.com

24 January 2019 to WLBC

“Thank you for this reply, which is the usual statement, that WLBC isn’t a party to anything between individual applicants for annual golf course Membership Contracts and Serco. Of course it isn’t. But being told to ask Serco anything is unlikely to lead to a truthful answer. Serco has breached planning conditions on the Beacon Park Golf Course. Why should a WLBC council tax payer trust Serco about contracts when it didn’t keep its own planning conditions, which itself is a form of contract? As for WLBC “not holding the information”, how convenient is that? Nevertheless, I realise the matter is concluded”.


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