Anger over Brandhall Golf Course closure plans laid bare
Angry residents and golfers grilled Sandwell Council officials during a heated meeting to discuss plans to convert Brandhall golf course into a housing estate.
Nearly 100 people packed into its small club house last night to ask questions on proposals to create a park and build a school and a possible 800 homes on the land which is owned the local authority.
Many audience members jeered as officials tried to explain why the choice of not closing the course had not been included in a council online consultation and questionnaire.
John Wall, a local resident and course member, asked: “Why has no option being put forward on the council’s website of keeping the course open.
“I think this is biased and all one sided. The consultation has been loaded in your favour.”
Dr Alison Knight, executive director of neighbourhoods for Sandwell Council, struggled to be heard as she said no final decision on the course’s future had been taken.
Answering, she said: “There is the ability to make comments on the questionnaire and you can add those to the consultation.”
Council officers were often drowned out as audience members loudly pushed for answers to their questions.
Sandwell has said the club has 318 members, below the expected number for an 18-hole golf course, of which nearly two-thirds live outside the borough.
It also says research showed attendances at the course have fallen by a quarter in five years and it will cost £257,000 a year to keep open.
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Ash Rai, chief executive of Sandwell Leisure Trust which operates the course on behalf of the council, said the numbers of users, and rounds they play, had fallen dramatically.
“There is a genuine £257,000 loss at this course,” he added.
“Many years ago this course had double the amount of rounds we have now.
“Those rounds have reduced year-on-year and the reason for why those rounds have reduced is private courses have opened their courses and people can go anywhere to play.”
Dr Knight added responses to the council’s proposals will be discussed by councillors at a scrutiny meeting in January.