MEMBERS of a Darlington golf club have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a merger aimed at giving it a viable future and saving taxpayers almost £180,000-a-year.
The towns borough council has agreed in principle to Blackwell Grange Golf Club taking over the nearby authority-run Stressholme Golf Club site, which is currently subsidised to the tune of £178,000-a-year.
At an extraordinary general meeting at Blackwell Grange Hotel tonight (Thursday, November 8), 92 per cent of Blackwells members agreed to the deal.
The plan will now go out to public consultation, with the councils cabinet making the final decision in January.
If agreed, Blackwell will buy the Stressholme site, with the council buying land currently owned by the golf club.
This would then be sold for executive housing - subject to planning permission - with the authority and Blackwell benefiting from the proceeds.
The authority, which currently leases the remaining land back to Blackwell, believes freeing an area up for high class properties could lead to £8m investment in the town.
Speaking after the meeting, council leader, Coun Bill Dixon said: "It is a sensible move on their part and a logical move on the councils part.
"I am surprised how high the vote was, but I think that just shows there really isn't an alternative for either the council or club. This produces a win-win situation for both of us."
Blackwell's secretary, Doug Christie, was equally enthusiastic.
"We had to get a 75 per cent majority voting in favour and we got 92 per cent of the membership in favour of the move," he said. "We have got a clear mandate to continue our discussions with the council and, hopefully, we can progress that and move to Stressholme in due course.
"I think this is an exciting opportunity, not just for Blackwell Grange Golf Club, but for the existing membership at Stressholme.
"We certainly want to work with them and move on together. There are no barriers between us."
Mr Christie added: "What it means is, in due course, all the assets at Blackwell will be reinvested into the site at Stressholme.
"There is no individual within the club gets anything out of this at all, it all goes into the club - it is all about the club moving forward and reinvesting the monies in Stressholme. That facility for Darlington in general will be, in due course, really good."
Residents wanting to comment on the issue can do so until December 31 online at www.darlington.gov.uk/golfconsultation, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or in writing to Golf Consultation, Darlington Borough Council, Freepost Dl64, Town Hall, Darlington, DL15BS.