Leeds City Council has resurrected its plans to close Middleton Park golf course. A public consultation is underway and closes on Friday 4 July 2014.
The proposal to close the golf course comes against the background of continued cuts to the council’s funding. Grants from central government have reduced by £175m between 2010/11 and 2015/16. The Parks & Countryside service has suffered cuts of 23% over this period. The closure of the course is projected to save the council of £76,000 per year.
Usage of the Middleton course has declined steadily since 2006 from 17,101 to 6,873 last year, a fall of 60%. Whilst the council’s consultation paper recognises the health and social benefits of playing golf, it says the market for golf has changed dramatically since the course was established eighty years ago. Private courses are no longer exclusive and expensive according to the report.
The proposal to close the course and let it revert to ‘semi natural parkland’ was first mooted in December 2012, but the course was given a reprieve through 2013. Golfers were told to ‘use it or lose it’, numbers increased a little last year, but back to previous levels.
Meanwhile a group comprising Middleton Park Municipal Golf Club, LCC Parks & Countryside, councillors, Friends of Middleton Park and the Wades Trust (which owns the park) have been meeting to review a number of options to keep the course open. The group have been unable to identify a viable plan, other than keeping it council owned and run, or closing it.
The plans are to close both the Middleton and Gotts Park golf courses, leaving two council courses at Rounday Park and Temple Newsam. The results of the consultation will go the the council’s Executive Board who will make the final decision.
The consultation report, questionnaire and plans are available via the Leeds City Council website. The public consultation is open until Friday 4 July 2014.