The Great Gushing Gratitude We Owe WLBC For The Beacon Park Golf Course Management

In March/April 2005 we had the astonishing success of the Beacon Park Golf Course writ large in official minutes, courtesy of “Relevant Portfolio Holder: Councillor David Westley and The Deputy Chief Executive. That, subject to the agreement of Council the Deputy Chief Executive, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Community Services be authorised to negotiate and conclude a further management agreement and grant of a lease (subject to all necessary consents being obtained) with DCT Leisure of the land and premises at Beacon Park for a period of 5 years, with a further 2 options to renew the arrangements for a further 5 year period.

“BACKGROUND At its meeting on 25th January 2000 the Transportation and Amenities Committee authorised the Director of Development and Amenities to select a private sector partner, and to negotiate and enter into a contractual arrangement for the provision of golfing services at Beacon Country Park. This was undertaken and DCT Leisure was chosen.

“DCT Leisure commenced the partnership at the Beacon on 24th July 2000. Capital investment in the course and centre over the first 5 years has totalled approximately £120,000. The District Council has relinquished all operating costs for the facilities, with the exception of structural maintenance to the buildings, and presently receives fees from DCT Leisure of approximately £25,000 per annum. This contrasts with an operating deficit of £106,000 in the year prior to DCT Leisure being engaged.

“DCT have made a request to have a further two five year options in the lease, which, if taken up, would take it to 2020. They have indicated that they want these extension options to enable them to recoup the benefit of further capital investment that they have indicated they would wish to put into the facility. This additional investment would include improvements to the course, purchasing of new maintenance equipment, upgrade of the driving range, provision of cafeteria/brassiere open to all users of the Country Park, investigation of new mini golf facility, and general improvements to the centre and surrounds.

“Members may wish to acknowledge the success to date of the ground breaking partnership with DCT Leisure in managing the Beacon Park Golf Course over the last 5 years.

“DCT Leisure has greatly improved the course and centre facilities at Beacon Park, and the Council is in a much more favourable financial situation with their involvement. The number of rounds has increased by 30% from all time lows in the late 1990’s. There have been significant increases in the number of Club membership and annual contracts sold. The Council should, therefore welcome the take up by DCT Leisure of their initial 5 year option.

“Continuation of the lease for DCT Leisure would extend the period over which this Council would save on the operational costs of the golf course and centre, keeping only the responsibility for structural maintenance. It would also guarantee an income from the facility, presently standing at approximately £25,000 per annum.

“The Council and users of the facility have benefited greatly from the involvement of DCT Leisure at the Beacon Park Golf Course. On the results shown, improvement to facilities, and the financial outcome, it would appear to be appropriate to continue the partnership arrangement”.

As Shakespeare put it “But all that glitters is not gold! Often have you heard that told: Many a man his life hath sold, but my outside to behold: Gilded tombs do worms enfold”.

Mark Orde Prosser, Occupation Accountant, prepared the DCT Leisure Ltd accounts, about which in 2005 the company accountants stated “We have not been instructed to carry out an audit of the financial statements. For this reason we have not verified the accuracy or completeness of the accounting records or information and explanations you have given us and we do not therefore express an opinion on the financial statements”.

The fact is that the annual income to WLBC was based on a failing company that duly dissolved with VAT debts to HMRC and individual debts to redundant employees. A sordid period in the history of WLBC.

This below is the state of part of the Beacon Park Golf Course after 8 years of landfill. Does it represent best value to tax payers?

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