£1million golf plan to raise windfall for Sefton Council
Sefton Council has revealed a plan to raise over £1million through golf in Sefton.
It is the latest in a series of creative schemes being used by the local authority to try and raise revenue, following years of cuts which have seen its budget reduced by £64million.
Council officers are now aiming to build two golf driving ranges, one in Southport and one in Bootle, which they believe would generate much-needed additional revenue for their services.
The council recently bought the Strand shopping centre in Bootle and is looking to redevelop Crosby Lakeside Centre in order to generate further funds.
Construction at Southport Golf Links, on Park Road West in Southport, and Bootle Golf Course, on Dunningsbridge Road, would take place during this financial year (2020/2021), funded by £536,000 of prudential borrowing to be repaid over the next 10 years.
The driving ranges are projected to generate a £1.1 million surplus for Sefton over the next 10 years, contributing to the council’s budget savings.
The plans would allow the sites to be open for longer hours into the evenings to maximise footfall.
The schemes could also encourage more people to try golf at an affordable cost, which could ultimately boost membership at the area’s private golf clubs.
In his report to councillors, Sefton Council Head of Locality Services Andrew Walker said: “Golf is a popular sport in Sefton which benefits the health and well being of people of all ages and abilities. A golf driving range is an essential facility for people to learn and practise playing golf.
“Municipal courses have a role in the golfing community to encourage new players to begin the sport, to provide ‘feeder’ facilities into private clubs, and also to provide affordable golf for people who wish to simply ‘pay and play’, and don’t want the membership commitment of a private club.”
Mr Walker has undertaken research to confirm that there is scope in both the North and South of the Borough for additional golf driving range facilities.
He said: “There is no other facility within 15 minutes (7 miles) of our Southport Golf Links and only one competing for Bootle Golf Course in Aintree 10 minutes away (2.5 miles) in the South of the Borough which is low for such a high population.”
It is proposed that the two driving ranges will be developed at the same time but, with a plot already identified at the Bootle site, this course will be a phase 1 development and Southport phase 2.
Sefton will include the driving ranges in its capital programme before seeking to obtain planning permission.
The council is currently investing £1.2million in revamping Southport Theatre, as well as transforming Splash World in Southport, and is close to completing the £3.5million regeneration of Southport Pier.
Officers will look to conduct a procurement exercise to appoint a contractor or contractors to build the new facilities and provide machinery and maintenance thereafter.
Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “Driving ranges are a great facility for people to learn, practise and play golf. The new driving ranges will enhance Sefton’s municipal courses, which provide affordable, good quality facilities for people to enjoy the sport. The project supports Sefton Council’s 2030 Vision and will encourage new people young and old to participate in golf. The surplus the driving ranges are forecast to generate will enable the Council to invest further in front-line services.”
The course at Southport Golf Links was originally opened in 1912 as a 9 hole course on reclaimed land bordering the Irish Sea. During the 1930s more land was reclaimed and it was extended to an 18-hole course. The designer was Harry Shapland Colt who was one of the world’s leading golf course architects of his generation.
Sefton Council took responsibility for running Bootle Golf Course in March, 2013, re-opening the course again for paid access. Since coming back to the service, a number of improvements were carried out including: overhaul of the drainage system to ease some of the flooding issues; health and safety works to the main building to make it safe and secure; and improvements to the car park area.