Newcastle Council has taken back control of Keele’s popular golf course after a campaign led by club members and supported by the town’s Labour MP Paul Farrelly.
The company running the centre went into liquidation in February, but club members and employees had already contacted Mr Farrelly long beforehand with concerns as to how it was being run, which he took up with the Council.
As administrators took over the running of the business, Mr Farrelly stepped in to ask the Council – which owns the site – to consider running it ‘in-house’ to ensure the course and its facilities would remain open.
After initially rejecting the request, the Council has now written to Mr Farrelly confirming that it has taken possession of the centre and put in place immediate measures to maintain the grounds.
A report outlining options for the future management of the site will now be considered by councillors to secure the long-term future of the centre.
The Council’s change of heart was welcomed by Mr Farrelly, who said it was important that urgent steps are now taken to refurbish the fairways and greens as a priority as part of a package to retain the centre in the long term as a service to the community.
“When it opened in 1975, Keele Golf Course had a reputation as one of the best municipal golf courses in the West Midlands and, along with the club’s members, I would love to see its fortunes restored,” Mr Farrelly said.
“It is a fantastic facility that should be retained as a jewel in Newcastle’s crown. For this reason I felt it was important for the Council to take control and keep it going at least in the short term until a new contractor can be found.”
It is understood that several former employees, who were made redundant by the previous operator, have now been re-employed temporarily and an interim contract has been awarded to another operator to ensure the maintenance of the course.
Mr Les Harrison, Secretary of the Club, said he was delighted with the Council’s decision and thanked Mr Farrelly for his intervention.
“Until Paul stepped in and put pressure on the Council we were getting very little joy from them. ‘
“Our club membership has declined drastically in recent years as people have abandoned the centre because of the neglect of the course and facilities. I am now hoping the Council will respond positively to the concerns that have been voiced and put in place proper measures to secure its future on a permanent basis,” he added.