Serco Hoist With Its Own Petard?

What concerns did Serco Leisure Operating Ltd have before closing the Beacon Park Golf Course (BPGC)? Their Head of Leisure has written “We closed our West Lancashire leisure facilities on 20th March including BPGC. Naturally during this time with no revenue we are playing close attention to our cost base to minimise our losses. I can confirm that we intend to re-commence essential maintenance works at Beacon Park from Monday 20th April albeit on a reduced basis, so as not to encourage social gathering or unauthorised usage of the course”.

But the leisure policies, including golf for senior members at the BPGC 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. But not for this, below!

21 August 2015 From John Nelson Head of Leisure and Cultural Services “West Lancashire Community Leisure accepted the responsibility to operate the Golf Course and with assurances and indemnities provided by Serco Leisure Operating Limited agreed to manage the golf course until 31st March 2020. There are no restrictions placed on the operation other than the golf course needs to remain operational and provide a service as a pay and play facility”.

“The outgoing Beacon Golf Course Contractor Management ‘DCT’ were losing money from the operation and were unable to sustain year on year losses. DCT gave notice to the Council in October 2011 that they could no longer manage the golf course. An initial temporary period of management commenced on the1st January 2012 with West Lancashire Community Leisure for a period of twelve months in order to evaluate the operation and determine if it was sustainable in the future.

West Lancashire Community Leisure agreed in January 2013 to take on the responsibility for the Beacon Golf Course and agreed a business plan with Serco Leisure Operating Limited, this provided for a surplus to be made after a period of service review and redevelopment. The surplus provision allows for one third shares, one third to the Borough Council, one third to West Lancashire Community Leisure and one third to Serco Leisure Operating Limited. It is not expected that any surplus will be made until 2017/18.

“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 new 9 hole par 3 course will generate additional income and importantly bring more junior golfers to the club”.

The years have rolled on by, the BPGC condition is a disgrace, and Serco Leisure Operating Ltd (SLOL) is seemingly in breach of what John Nelson Head of Leisure and Cultural Services wrote in August 2015. If SLOL is now claiming that revenue IS an issue, they should be corrected by WLBC and told to continue whenever the Covid-19 problem ends. 

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