21/08/2019

Dundee City Council closes Camperdown Golf Course

The SNP Administration pushed through the closure of Camperdown Golf Course at the meeting of the Policy & Resources Committee on Monday evening.

You can read the flimsy report calling for the closure of Camperdown Golf Course here from the marked page 153 onwards.  Six flimsy pages which beg more questions than they answer closed Camperdown Golf Course after sixty years.

I moved an amendment which said that the closure should not happen unless a lot more work was done to provide more information.


Let’s be very very clear.  Leisure & Culture Dundee operate Camperdown Golf Course on behalf of Dundee City Council.  The council currently pays them a management fee to operate the course and the other facilities which the City Council has delegated to them.  Leisure and Culture are perfectly within their rights to come to the council and say that they cannot continue to operate the golf course.



However, that means that Dundee City Council had to make the decision.  It was the decision of Dundee City Council's Policy & Resources Committee which decided whether Camperdown Golf Course closed or not.



The report presented to the committee was totally inadequate.  It does not demonstrate that every avenue has been looked at.  It makes statements and offers no evidence.

The Director of Leisure & Culture and the Chief Executive accepted that the Equality Impact Assessments could be better.  These are integral to the decision making process it is a disgrace that this decision was forced through after this was said.

I feel sorry for Camperdown Golf Course elsewhere in the reports for the meeting we were told that there was a year on year increase in use.  In normal circumstances this would call for a self-congratulatory press release and photo call instead Camperdown Golf Course was marked for closure.



The figure in the report of £440,000 is for all of Golf Dundee’s activities.  What is the actual figure for costs at Camperdown Golf Course the report does not say.


The club captain at Camperdown Golf Club Ian McAlindon spoke eloquently for his members.  They had not been consulted.  They had been told that the course was safe.  He said that he was 'gobsmacked' when he heard that the course was marked for closure.  The report also said that Camperdown Golf Club was in financial difficulty Mr McAlindon said that this was not true.  The report and Mr McAlindon cannot both be right.


This suggests to me that no effective consultation has taken place before such a major decision is made.  Informal discussions as highlighted in paragraph 4.10 of the report do not represent a consultation with other possible providers.



The relevant financial information was not in the report.  Even if you were minded to close Camperdown Golf Course it should not have been done on the basis of this incomplete, flimsy report.  As the Revenue Monitoring Report also presented on Monday evening demonstrated previous schemes to deliver savings have not come off or have not delivered the expected income.



The plans for a golf driving range at Caird Park are interesting but as far as this report is concerned uncosted.  A figure of £80,000 is mentioned but not substantiated.  We cannot assume anything about income or expenditure about this plan.



The hope for the best school of accounting is unacceptable.



Camperdown Park can be and should be an attractive place to visit.  Much has been done in recent years with the new visitor centre at the Wildlife Park and the new play area for example.



We need to develop a refreshed  master plan for the park.  We should note that the then Environment Committee agreed in September 2012 to look at finding a productive use for Camperdown House.  It is unacceptable that seven years on there has been no progress on this.  This should be a priority.  Councillors are the custodians of Camperdown House and Camperdown Park we have a duty to find ways in which Dundonians and visitors can use these great assets.



Being able to visit Camperdown House and perhaps play golf is surely one way of doing this.



I pointed out that some councillors might think that the closure of Camperdown Golf Course will not impact on them.  But by condemning Camperdown Golf Course to closure Dundee City Council set a very unwelcome precedent about the closure of facilities.  Which facility will be next?



There appear to be no guarantees that people who have recently been transferred from Leisure & Culture Dundee employment to maintain the grounds will not be made compulsorily redundant.  

I wanted the council to demonstrate the every option to keep Camperdown Golf Course open.  I wanted to look at at whether the golf course could be brought back in house, whether another provider could be found or whether a community asset transfer could be a solution.  My amendment included these options.  I was delighted when Councillor Lynne Short called for a community asset transfer to be considered I was surprised and slightly confused when Councillor Short then voted to close the golf course.



Monday evening's meeting was not Dundee City Council's finest hour.  The poorly set out proposals were pushed through.   On the basis of the report before the council on Monday evening the very least that was needed was an awful lot more information before such a big decision was made.

Along with my colleagues in the Labour Group I am willing to work with the members of Camperdown Golf Club and the users of Camperdown Golf Course to see if this closure can be stopped.

It is hard to disagree with my colleague Councillor Charlie Malone who said that this is an act of  'cultural vandalism.'