Last Wednesday (17 September 2014) Leeds City Council’s Executive Board decided to close Middleton Park golf course at the end of October, but what happens next? We spoke to Cllr Judith Blake and Alan Shaw, Chair of Friends of Middleton Park (FOMP).
Judith Blake is a councillor for the Middleton Park ward and also sits on the Executive Board. She told us:
“It is sad to be in a position when we can’t keep open historic facilities, but we are faced by ferocious budget cuts and the course was used by declining numbers that didn’t justify the level of subsidy we were putting in.”
However she went on to explain that she is determined to see sport and leisure activities continue on the site. A sum of £74,000 is available to help transform the land. Middleton Park is owned by Wades Charity and leased to Leeds City Council, there is no question of the land being sold off for housing or any other use.
Council officers are now consulting with Wades, FOMP and others. Possibilities include cycle paths, a BMX track and restoring the historic layout of the park. Cllr Blake confirmed that this would be an open process and nothing would be done without consultation and involvement.
Friends of Middleton Park (FOMP) have published a ‘position statement’ which sets out their views around five themes: Alignment with the current Park; Celebrate our local heritage; Inclusion of sporting themes/areas; Attract wildlife and a Shopping List of Aspirations. You can read the full document on FOMP’s website: www.fomp.co.uk/downloads/GolfCourseConsultation_FoMP_Views.pdf
Their ideas range from dedicated spaces for cyclo-cross and remote-controlled cars – activities which already take place in the park unofficially; through to the creation of a marshland area, a small petting farm and a sculpture trail.
Alan Shaw, Chair of FOMP said:
“None of us wanted to see the golf course closed, but we have to move on and make the most of this opportunity to reshape the park. We have been promised a full consultation on what replaces the golf course and we would like to hear local residents’ and park user’s ideas.”