Review of the Municipal Golf Course Offer in Wirral
Councillor Chris Meaden aided by Councillor Pat Hackett introduced a report by the Strategic Director - Families and Wellbeing that provided an overview of the municipal golf courses managed and operated by the Council and a recommendation on the future operation of the Council’s golf offer.
The courses managed and operated by the Council were:
- Arrowe Park – 18 hole course, 9 hole pitch and putt
- Brackenwood – 18 hole course
- Hoylake – 18 hole course
- The Warren – 9 hole course
- Wallasey Beach – 18 hole pitch and putt
- Kings Parade – mini golf
The report did not include the municipal golf course at Hoylake, as this was part of a separate review.
During the financial year 2014 - 2015 the subsidy for golf operation was budgeted at £330k (excluding Hoylake).
The following principles underpinned the Council’s approach to reviewing the structure of their golf offer: That
· the service would operate at a nil subsidy to the Council and would seek to generate an income stream for the Council;
· the requirement for affordable and accessible ‘pay and play’ golf was maintained; and
· investment in the courses and facilities was secured.
The Strategic Director sought approval to undertake a procurement process to seek a delivery partner for the Council’s golf offer. There were a number of options based upon local and national knowledge, statistical evidence, benchmarking and consultation. At this stage they were as follows:
1. Service remained in house with operations staying currently as they were – This option would mean that the risk of the Council’s subsidy could increase as investment was required to maintain the existing sites.
2. Service remained in house with operational changes – This would involve a number of significant changes to the operation to include, implementing a restructure, improving and investing in the facilities, promoting and marketing over a 3-5 year period allowing time for the sport to grow and develop and capital programmes to reach fruition. Partial outsourcing/leasing of selected areas to include:
· Grounds keeping
· Professional lessons
· Patrol staff
The Cabinet was informed that this option would require potential investment of over £0.5 to improve existing courses, upgrade the infrastructure and improve DDA access. This option did not meet all the principles set out above.
3. Deliver an alternative model – Undertake a procurement exercise to identify a delivery partner to provide the Council’s golf offer in line with the principles identified in section 1.4 of the report. This option would meet the principles set out in 1.4.
4. Sell the courses – and release income from capital receipts. This option would meet the principles set out in 1.4.
Councillor Phil Davies informed that this was not a proposal to sell off municipal golf courses in Wirral. It was to try to find an alternative provider and reduce the subsidies the Council paid. Investment was required to improve the golf offer. Therefore, it was appropriate to go out to the market place to see what interest there was and provide a further report for the Cabinet’s consideration in due course.
That Option 3 in Section 7 of the report be agreed as follows:
‘Deliver via an alternative model – Undertake a procurement exercise to identify a delivery partner to provide the Council’s golf offer in line with the principles identified at Section 1.4. This option would meet the principles set out at 1.4. of the report’