Treasured community golf course looks set to never reopen after two year campaign

Lady members on the 18th Green at Brackenwood Golf Course,including ltr Jackie Watts(Secretary),Gill Hill(Past Captain),Jan Beacall(Acting Captain),Ann Edwards(Captain Elect),and Rita Simmons.(Pic Andrew Teebay).
-Credit: (Image: Andrew Teebay Liverpool Echo)

A golf course which a community had been fighting to reopen is likely to stay closed for good.

Brackenwood Golf Course in Bebington, Wirral, was closed in 2022 after sweeping budget cuts by Wirral Council but there was hope it would reopen after a bid was put forward by Brackenwood Community Golf Limited (BCGL) to take it over. This got final approval from councillors in July 2023 to tears and applause.

However in March 2024, an email sent to leading councillors, seen by the ECHO, said the transfer would not be going ahead to BCGL. This is because RM Estates, who had been supporting the golf club with a rental guarantee, pulled out and put forward a different proposal.

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A council report published ahead of the committee meeting suggests councillors keep the land but “maximise its use for grass playing pitches for a variety of sports (without floodlights)” as well as improve natural habitats and biodiversity. There would be plans to improve community access as well as future allotments on part of the site.

Two other options could be considered. One is to sell the golf course for up to £950,000 to anyone interested in using it for sport and recreation, though any prospective purchasers would take into account the course’s current state.

The other option is to reopen the process to transfer the golf course into community hands but this would require everything to start again. The report said: “The risk is given the recent decision of Brackenwood Community Golf Limited, that any future asset transfer proposals may also not be viable.”

The reason for the change is because RM Estates had told the council an 18 hole course was not sustainable and put forward an alternative proposal for a small golf course they said would be more sustainable and attractive to beginners. The company also stopped maintaining the golf course.

Tony Minshall, its managing director, previously said: “The economic climate has changed. The way people are spending now, I do not think it is an easy market at all. That is where we are basically. It’s not going to be easy for the next few years because the country is in such a mess.”

The issue was meant to come to committee in June but was pushed back to a policy and resources meeting on July 17 due to the general election.

Golf club secretary Keith Marsh said they would also be putting forward another proposal which was the same as that approved by councillors. He said this is being supported by Link Golf Ltd which runs a number of previously council-operated golf courses.

He said he was "bitterly disappointed" a similar recommendation on sports pitches had been brought forward again and plans to write to councillors. He said: "I hope that they stick to their vision from last year. We have got Link Golf ready and waiting to open it up."

While two bids have been put forward for the golf course by both RM Estates and Brackenwood Golf Club, the report said the council will not respond to both parties until councillors make a decision.

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