Welsh council bails out loss-making club

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir October 12, 2011 06:47

Welsh council bails out loss-making club

Parc Garnant, a council-owned golf club in Carmarthenshire which was costing its county council £150,000 per year to run, has been handed over to a private firm to run, under a 25-year lease.

Clay’s Golf, in Wrexham, will run the club, which was built at a cost of £1 million in 1992 on an opencase mine in the Amman Valley and was named best new course of the year in 2004 by the Golf Union of Wales, after the council failed to find a buyer, despite interest from 26 companies. The council will pay Clay’s Golf £160,000 to run the club over the next two years, and the new owner will not have to pay any rent until 2018.

A spokesman for Clay’s Golf said the club would remain open and affordable to all golfers, and that the clubhouse would be developed with a new five-hole pitch and putt course for juniors and beginners, plus a covered driving range, being built.

Managing director, Steve Williams, said: “We intend in the near future putting in planning for an additional five-hole par three pitch and putt to help develop schools and academy golf and a covered driving range that will be instrumental in giving everyone an opportunity to sample the sport.

“We have already been recognised by the Golf Union of Wales as a centre of excellence in Wrexham and will bring this commitment to enhancing and developing playing and practice facilities at Garnant.”

The Labour-led Carmarthenshire Council has been attacked by opposition Plaid Cymru over the move.

Plaid county councillor Marie Binnie, who represents the ward of Pontaman, said: “If we consider the cost of building the golf course and the haemorrhaging of funds just to keep it afloat, this is a substantial sum which has been lost from frontline services.

“To rub salt into the wound, this new arrangement seems as if the money has been completely wasted.”

However, the council’s deputy leader, Kevin Madge, responded: “This is a cheap political shot with no attempt to offer a solution.

“Plaid do not seem to understand the 26 interested parties were whittled down to two when they saw the challenge.

“Nobody was interested without a subsidy to kick start the challenge and the authority is firmly of the opinion this will be more cost effective in the long term.

“This is something officers have been working hard for sometime to resolve. Plaid have offered no solution.

“Plaid seem ignorant of the fact too that all leisure facilities are not statutory requirements and come at a great cost to the council like our swimming pools.

“This is typical Plaid clueless electioneering without any solution, substance or any progressive and helpful ideas to the way forward.”

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir October 12, 2011 06:47