Scarborough Council responds to petition claiming it is planning to sell off part of Whitby's golf club

Scarborough Council has moved to address claims that it is planning to sell off part of Whitby’s golf club for development.

Wednesday, 6th November 2019, 3:50 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th November 2019, 3:50 pm
Whitby's Golf club.

A petition has circulated online stating that the borough council, as the owner of the course, is looking to reduce it to nine holes and sell part of the property to a developer.

In response, the council has admitted it has been in discussions with the club, which is struggling to remain viable due to dwindling membership, to possibly reduce the number of holes but said no decision had been made.

A spokesman for Scarborough Borough Council said: “We have worked with Whitby Golf Club for many years in a bid to support the club and golf in Whitby in order to try and make it sustainable.

“Despite the council’s best efforts, unfortunately, the club is still struggling to be financially viable. The number of members has dwindled, income has reduced and coupled with the decline in the popularity of golf among some demographics, the club is finding it hard to survive without subsidy.

“We are continuing to see how we can help the club and golf in Whitby to continue while at the same time ensuring best value for money for the council taxpayer.

“We are in discussions with the club about a potential rescue package, which would require the club to produce a business plan setting out how it could be sustainable for the future.

“One consideration could be to operate as a nine-hole course instead of an 18-hole course although no decisions have yet been made by the club or the council about that option. In the event that the club feels they could make a nine-hole course work financially, we would then look at options for how any remaining land could be best used at that time.”

A spokesman for the board of directors of Whitby Golf Club said an offer to buy the club had fallen through, leading to it moving forward with other options.

They added: “In line with national trends, Whitby Golf Club has struggled financially for a large number of years. Scarborough Borough Council has continued to support the club financially but this has not enabled the longer-term financial future of the club.

“We had hoped that a private buyer would purchase the land and run the golf operation for members and visitors, but after three years of protracted negotiations, this offer was withdrawn.

“Since the summer our board has been working with the council on a new deal that would allow significant investment in the clubhouse and facilities whilst ensuring that the club would be financially secure in the long term.

“We held an extraordinary general meeting in September to present the outline proposal from the council. The members overwhelming voted to accept it and instructed the board of directors to work with the council to develop a final scheme for approval.

“We will continue to work with the council to develop the long term plan for the future of the club. This will preserve this historic green space and sports facility not only for its members but for all the residents of Whitby.”

The petition, which has more than 900 signatures, claims that the club was forced to choose between closure or accepting the reduced number of holes and advocated the success of a golf club in Middlesbrough being allowed to operate for a “peppercorn” rent as a potential way forward.

The spokesman for Whitby Golf Club said the views expressed in the petition “are not supported by the majority of members at the club”.