Move aims to save council £178,000 a year and lead to £8m investment in town from land sale

Darlington and Stockton Times: Blackwell Grange Golf Club Blackwell Grange Golf Club

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 golf.consultation@darlington.gov.uk or in writing to Golf Consultation, Darlington Borough Council, Freepost Dl64, Town Hall, Darlington, DL15BS.

Comments (15)

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6:29am Fri 9 Nov 12

The Grim Reeper says...

what I would like to know now how is Blackwell going to run this new venture and just how it will effect those members,pay as play regulars & people who use the club house on a regular basis for food & a drink ?
On the other hand I would also like to know just how many councillors are members at Blackwell and why they have not declared a personal interest as none have seen fit to do so least not in the Northern Echo. They should not in that case been allowed to vote? My last question is Why was no representative from Stressholme's Committee as a major interested party allowed to attend this meeting? Would someone please have the commom courtesy to reply to my questions. David Burns.
what I would like to know now how is Blackwell going to run this new venture and just how it will effect those members,pay as play regulars & people who use the club house on a regular basis for food & a drink ? On the other hand I would also like to know just how many councillors are members at Blackwell and why they have not declared a personal interest as none have seen fit to do so least not in the Northern Echo. They should not in that case been allowed to vote? My last question is Why was no representative from Stressholme's Committee as a major interested party allowed to attend this meeting? Would someone please have the commom courtesy to reply to my questions. David Burns. The Grim Reeper

8:12am Fri 9 Nov 12

Madadrian says...

What do you expect from a council where so many have their snouts in the council tax trough?
What do you expect from a council where so many have their snouts in the council tax trough? Madadrian

8:23am Fri 9 Nov 12

The_way_i_see_things says...

Interesting to see how Blackwell management committee can make this work when all golf clubs across the country are struggling to make the balance sheet break even and retain members. Stressholme had £180k a year in subsidies, that's a lot of new members required on Blackwells current numbers to make the take over work - time to bridge the gap with stressholme members of this will fail before it starts.
Interesting to see how Blackwell management committee can make this work when all golf clubs across the country are struggling to make the balance sheet break even and retain members. Stressholme had £180k a year in subsidies, that's a lot of new members required on Blackwells current numbers to make the take over work - time to bridge the gap with stressholme members of this will fail before it starts. The_way_i_see_things

9:04am Fri 9 Nov 12

robbieromec'ntlworld.com says...

Firstly It surprises me how the subsidy figure increases every time I read the Northern Echo.As fro Mr Christies' comments as to Blackwell individuals make no gain from the merger without it they would be without a golf club or course.The comments made about us working together so far as I can see all the contact so far has been with Blackwell committee and member, Stressholme members have had the bare minimum letter through t he post and comments made in the Echo . It will great interest to see how the new committee will be made up ?? I am a current member of Stressholme
Firstly It surprises me how the subsidy figure increases every time I read the Northern Echo.As fro Mr Christies' comments as to Blackwell individuals make no gain from the merger without it they would be without a golf club or course.The comments made about us working together so far as I can see all the contact so far has been with Blackwell committee and member, Stressholme members have had the bare minimum letter through t he post and comments made in the Echo . It will great interest to see how the new committee will be made up ?? I am a current member of Stressholme robbieromec'ntlworld.com

1:18pm Fri 9 Nov 12

The Grim Reeper says...

I must agree about the figure it started out at £83,000 and has gone up to £178,000 this is more than double where has this come from?
Whilst we are on the subject of money and saving it if all the Councillers were to drop their salaries by 30% just think how much it would save the Borough, I am lead to beleive that one Counciller is paid £160,000 pa that is a saving of £48,000 pa and another £140,000 yet another saving of £42,000.
If these people who at the end of the day were elected can't live on a reduced salary so that others less fortunate than them can earn just a wage, and the other facilities do not suffer, what a bad world we live in. Even if they were to take a reduction for say 5 years by which time the UK should be back on its feet again they could always have the 30% back?
I must agree about the figure it started out at £83,000 and has gone up to £178,000 this is more than double where has this come from? Whilst we are on the subject of money and saving it if all the Councillers were to drop their salaries by 30% just think how much it would save the Borough, I am lead to beleive that one Counciller is paid £160,000 pa that is a saving of £48,000 pa and another £140,000 yet another saving of £42,000. If these people who at the end of the day were elected can't live on a reduced salary so that others less fortunate than them can earn just a wage, and the other facilities do not suffer, what a bad world we live in. Even if they were to take a reduction for say 5 years by which time the UK should be back on its feet again they could always have the 30% back? The Grim Reeper

3:09pm Fri 9 Nov 12

ianh says...

Not sure where the Reaper got his info from but its way off the mark, the actual payments made to cllrs in 2010/11 were as follows;
MEMBERS ALLOWANCES 2010/11
NAME BASIC SPECIAL RESPONSIBILITY TRAVEL AND SUBSISTENCE
ARMSTRONG, J.B. £8,026.92
BALDWIN, P.J. £8,026.92 £9,173.04
BARKER, M.J. £8,026.92
BURTON, M.R. £8,026.92 £3,210.96
CARTWRIGHT, G. £8,026.92
CARTWRIGHT, M. £8,026.92
CHAPMAN, J. £1,122.05
COPELAND, V. £8,026.92 £11,466.96 £247.68
COSSINS, J. £5,782.84
COULTAS, A. £8,026.92
CURRY, A.M. £8,026.92
DAVIES, K.V. £8,026.92
DIXON, W.G. £8,026.92 £13,758.96
DUNSTONE, M. £8,026.92 £24.80
FRANCIS, R. £8,026.92
FREITAG, P. £8,026.92
GALLETLEY, I. £8,026.92
HARKER, S.J. £8,026.92 £11,466.96 £33.39
HARTLEY, I. £8,026.92 £3,210.96
HASZELDINE, I.G. £8,026.92 £9,747.00
HASZELDINE, L. £8,026.92
HUGHES, C.L.B. £8,026.92 £11,466.96
JENKINSON, E. £8,026.92
JOHNSON, C.V. £8,026.92 £1,146.96
JONES, B. £8,026.92
JONES, D.M. £8,026.92 £9,173.04
LAWTON, F. £8,026.92 £3,210.96
LEE, G.G. £8,026.92
LEWIS, R. £8,026.92
LISTER, E.J. £8,026.92 £9,173.04
LONG, D.C. £8,026.92 £9,173.04
LYONETTE, D.A. £8,026.92 £11,466.96
LYONETTE, J.M. £8,026.92
MADDISON, J.M. £8,026.92 £3,210.96
MCEWAN, C.P. £8,026.92 £11,466.96 £22.00
NEWALL, W. £8,026.92 £3,210.96 £38.00
NICHOLSON, A.E. £8,026.92
NUTT, T. £8,026.92 £9,173.04
REGAN, D.W. £8,026.92 £3,210.96
RICHMOND, E.A. £8,026.92
ROBERTS, E. £8,026.92
ROBSON, S. £8,026.92
RUCK, J.A. £8,026.92
SCOTT, A.J. £8,026.92 £11,466.96
SCOTT ,H.I. £8,026.92 £9,173.04 £71.54
STENSON, J.W. £8,026.92
SWAINSTON, M.G. £8,026.92 £1,146.96 £36.96
SWIFT, M. £8,026.92 £9,173.04
THISTLETHWAITE, B. £8,026.92
VASEY, L. £8,026.92
WALKER, G.B. £8,026.92 £3,210.96 £26.20
WALLIS, N.V. £8,026.92 £11,466.96
WILLIAMS, J. £8,026.92 £22,932.96 £264.15
YORK, S. £8,026.92

The really big salaries are the likes of the unelected Chief exec , Ada Burns who is on the sort of money Reaper refers to. How that is justifiable in a town of 100k people in this economic cli will let others judge...............
Not sure where the Reaper got his info from but its way off the mark, the actual payments made to cllrs in 2010/11 were as follows; MEMBERS ALLOWANCES 2010/11 NAME BASIC SPECIAL RESPONSIBILITY TRAVEL AND SUBSISTENCE ARMSTRONG, J.B. £8,026.92 BALDWIN, P.J. £8,026.92 £9,173.04 BARKER, M.J. £8,026.92 BURTON, M.R. £8,026.92 £3,210.96 CARTWRIGHT, G. £8,026.92 CARTWRIGHT, M. £8,026.92 CHAPMAN, J. £1,122.05 COPELAND, V. £8,026.92 £11,466.96 £247.68 COSSINS, J. £5,782.84 COULTAS, A. £8,026.92 CURRY, A.M. £8,026.92 DAVIES, K.V. £8,026.92 DIXON, W.G. £8,026.92 £13,758.96 DUNSTONE, M. £8,026.92 £24.80 FRANCIS, R. £8,026.92 FREITAG, P. £8,026.92 GALLETLEY, I. £8,026.92 HARKER, S.J. £8,026.92 £11,466.96 £33.39 HARTLEY, I. £8,026.92 £3,210.96 HASZELDINE, I.G. £8,026.92 £9,747.00 HASZELDINE, L. £8,026.92 HUGHES, C.L.B. £8,026.92 £11,466.96 JENKINSON, E. £8,026.92 JOHNSON, C.V. £8,026.92 £1,146.96 JONES, B. £8,026.92 JONES, D.M. £8,026.92 £9,173.04 LAWTON, F. £8,026.92 £3,210.96 LEE, G.G. £8,026.92 LEWIS, R. £8,026.92 LISTER, E.J. £8,026.92 £9,173.04 LONG, D.C. £8,026.92 £9,173.04 LYONETTE, D.A. £8,026.92 £11,466.96 LYONETTE, J.M. £8,026.92 MADDISON, J.M. £8,026.92 £3,210.96 MCEWAN, C.P. £8,026.92 £11,466.96 £22.00 NEWALL, W. £8,026.92 £3,210.96 £38.00 NICHOLSON, A.E. £8,026.92 NUTT, T. £8,026.92 £9,173.04 REGAN, D.W. £8,026.92 £3,210.96 RICHMOND, E.A. £8,026.92 ROBERTS, E. £8,026.92 ROBSON, S. £8,026.92 RUCK, J.A. £8,026.92 SCOTT, A.J. £8,026.92 £11,466.96 SCOTT ,H.I. £8,026.92 £9,173.04 £71.54 STENSON, J.W. £8,026.92 SWAINSTON, M.G. £8,026.92 £1,146.96 £36.96 SWIFT, M. £8,026.92 £9,173.04 THISTLETHWAITE, B. £8,026.92 VASEY, L. £8,026.92 WALKER, G.B. £8,026.92 £3,210.96 £26.20 WALLIS, N.V. £8,026.92 £11,466.96 WILLIAMS, J. £8,026.92 £22,932.96 £264.15 YORK, S. £8,026.92 The really big salaries are the likes of the unelected Chief exec , Ada Burns who is on the sort of money Reaper refers to. How that is justifiable in a town of 100k people in this economic cli will let others judge............... ianh

7:04pm Fri 9 Nov 12

darlokel says...

No one seems to mention that Sressholme is the peoples' golfcourse and there is a raft of residents who are not members who turn up on a pay and play basis because they cannot afford to be members of a golf club but love golf. Sport for all! So here we go again in the Darlington 'things to do' clearout. Mr Dixon, A Blackwell member I believe must be looking forward to his new club as Stressholme is a better course. I would like to see the actual profit and loss figures for Stressholme as we have now had losses quoted of £35,000, £85,000 and now a saving of £185,000 will be made. Well Mr Dixon which one is it or none of these?. Oh and do the losses include the subsidies for resdents and pensioners at Stressholme.
No one seems to mention that Sressholme is the peoples' golfcourse and there is a raft of residents who are not members who turn up on a pay and play basis because they cannot afford to be members of a golf club but love golf. Sport for all! So here we go again in the Darlington 'things to do' clearout. Mr Dixon, A Blackwell member I believe must be looking forward to his new club as Stressholme is a better course. I would like to see the actual profit and loss figures for Stressholme as we have now had losses quoted of £35,000, £85,000 and now a saving of £185,000 will be made. Well Mr Dixon which one is it or none of these?. Oh and do the losses include the subsidies for resdents and pensioners at Stressholme. darlokel

8:45pm Fri 9 Nov 12

Sabre0 says...

Well Darlokell has hit the nail on the head. quote there is a raft of residents who are not members who turn up on a play and pay basis unquote.

What provisions are in place to ensure we can continue to do this at the very reasonable rates that currently exist.

Access for the general public on these terms was a key reason for providing municipal golf courses.

I look forward to an informed response
Well Darlokell has hit the nail on the head. quote there is a raft of residents who are not members who turn up on a play and pay basis unquote. What provisions are in place to ensure we can continue to do this at the very reasonable rates that currently exist. Access for the general public on these terms was a key reason for providing municipal golf courses. I look forward to an informed response Sabre0

8:08am Sat 10 Nov 12

Liamsm says...

Sorry have I missed something. How does everyone know that the pay as you play option will not continue when the merger goes through?
Sorry have I missed something. How does everyone know that the pay as you play option will not continue when the merger goes through? Liamsm

8:44am Sat 10 Nov 12

Wickedman says...

The Council lose an loss making asset in the face of being tasked to find £25m in cuts. Blackwell buy a course with potential and secure a financially stable future by selling valuable land. Green fees will be set somewhere between both course's current fees, with every member entitled to remain a member. Pay-for-play will stop as the course will no longer be a municipal. The profit generated by the land deal provides the future of the golf club for longer term, who, owing to its charitable status, have obligations that prevent this deal from being simply putting a load of money into a rich club of rich people. Losing the municipal golf course is the key issue, not Blackwell. The economic climate impacts everyone - I suspect those whom are struggling to heat their homes this Winter or feed a family on 10% less disposable income than that of 2010 may not share the passion to subsidise the playing of golf.
The Council lose an loss making asset in the face of being tasked to find £25m in cuts. Blackwell buy a course with potential and secure a financially stable future by selling valuable land. Green fees will be set somewhere between both course's current fees, with every member entitled to remain a member. Pay-for-play will stop as the course will no longer be a municipal. The profit generated by the land deal provides the future of the golf club for longer term, who, owing to its charitable status, have obligations that prevent this deal from being simply putting a load of money into a rich club of rich people. Losing the municipal golf course is the key issue, not Blackwell. The economic climate impacts everyone - I suspect those whom are struggling to heat their homes this Winter or feed a family on 10% less disposable income than that of 2010 may not share the passion to subsidise the playing of golf. Wickedman

12:22pm Sat 10 Nov 12

seena_beena says...

Anyone that plays golf in the Darlo area knows that the once thriving Blackell Grange Golf Club is on the verge of going bust due to the recession & bad management, on the other hand Stressholme has a strong membership, income from casual green fees, the driving range & the bar/restaurant, how it is making a loss is a complete mystery. There is a huge demand for a municipal golf course in this area & if anything we need less private, exclusive & expensive facilities.

The housing market is also currently very stagnant, where is the demand for 60 executive houses costing between £800k to £1.2million? According to the financial press nothing looks like changing for the next 10 even 20 years. In addition anyone that lives overlooking Blackwell can expect tens of thousands wiping off the value of their houses through no fault of their own, not to mention the extra traffic & noise....

A concerned local resident.
Anyone that plays golf in the Darlo area knows that the once thriving Blackell Grange Golf Club is on the verge of going bust due to the recession & bad management, on the other hand Stressholme has a strong membership, income from casual green fees, the driving range & the bar/restaurant, how it is making a loss is a complete mystery. There is a huge demand for a municipal golf course in this area & if anything we need less private, exclusive & expensive facilities. The housing market is also currently very stagnant, where is the demand for 60 executive houses costing between £800k to £1.2million? According to the financial press nothing looks like changing for the next 10 even 20 years. In addition anyone that lives overlooking Blackwell can expect tens of thousands wiping off the value of their houses through no fault of their own, not to mention the extra traffic & noise.... A concerned local resident. seena_beena

2:58pm Sun 11 Nov 12

The Grim Reeper says...

As far as whether these are elected members or not anyone in the council earning salaries in access should take a 30% cut to show the people of this Borough they are willing to stand behind them, and not use them as they have upto now.
As for Stressholme's bar & restaurant not making a profit this is squarely the councils faulty and no one else's,they have not approached new Suppliers such as the Supermarkets instead of Brake Bros and this goes across the whole spectrum of purchasing. Any profits made by the golf club overall have not been ploughed back into this facility but shared with other venues. You can not run a Golf Club along these lines it does'nt work.
As far as whether these are elected members or not anyone in the council earning salaries in access should take a 30% cut to show the people of this Borough they are willing to stand behind them, and not use them as they have upto now. As for Stressholme's bar & restaurant not making a profit this is squarely the councils faulty and no one else's,they have not approached new Suppliers such as the Supermarkets instead of Brake Bros and this goes across the whole spectrum of purchasing. Any profits made by the golf club overall have not been ploughed back into this facility but shared with other venues. You can not run a Golf Club along these lines it does'nt work. The Grim Reeper

10:22am Tue 13 Nov 12

robbieromec'ntlworld.com says...

in reply to the person who said green fees would be somewere in the middle and they would be no pay and play,who said this,i thought it was all to be discussed with members of stressholme and the general public ?.also his remarks about people struggling to heat their homes and feed there families,i would have thought those facts would impact a lot more on stressholme members than our friends from blackwell who will pay less for there membership and get a real golf course to play on
in reply to the person who said green fees would be somewere in the middle and they would be no pay and play,who said this,i thought it was all to be discussed with members of stressholme and the general public ?.also his remarks about people struggling to heat their homes and feed there families,i would have thought those facts would impact a lot more on stressholme members than our friends from blackwell who will pay less for there membership and get a real golf course to play on robbieromec'ntlworld.com

4:56pm Thu 15 Nov 12

toffee2 says...

Wickedman wrote:
The Council lose an loss making asset in the face of being tasked to find £25m in cuts. Blackwell buy a course with potential and secure a financially stable future by selling valuable land. Green fees will be set somewhere between both course's current fees, with every member entitled to remain a member. Pay-for-play will stop as the course will no longer be a municipal. The profit generated by the land deal provides the future of the golf club for longer term, who, owing to its charitable status, have obligations that prevent this deal from being simply putting a load of money into a rich club of rich people. Losing the municipal golf course is the key issue, not Blackwell. The economic climate impacts everyone - I suspect those whom are struggling to heat their homes this Winter or feed a family on 10% less disposable income than that of 2010 may not share the passion to subsidise the playing of golf.
I'm a Stressholme member (currently but can't say I will be in future), but do agree with "Wickedman". The whole countries going through a Sh*t time, so this issue should be the least of our concerns.
[quote][p][bold]Wickedman[/bold] wrote: The Council lose an loss making asset in the face of being tasked to find £25m in cuts. Blackwell buy a course with potential and secure a financially stable future by selling valuable land. Green fees will be set somewhere between both course's current fees, with every member entitled to remain a member. Pay-for-play will stop as the course will no longer be a municipal. The profit generated by the land deal provides the future of the golf club for longer term, who, owing to its charitable status, have obligations that prevent this deal from being simply putting a load of money into a rich club of rich people. Losing the municipal golf course is the key issue, not Blackwell. The economic climate impacts everyone - I suspect those whom are struggling to heat their homes this Winter or feed a family on 10% less disposable income than that of 2010 may not share the passion to subsidise the playing of golf.[/p][/quote]I'm a Stressholme member (currently but can't say I will be in future), but do agree with "Wickedman". The whole countries going through a Sh*t time, so this issue should be the least of our concerns. toffee2

9:03pm Mon 19 Nov 12

golf4all says...

I realise that many of your correspondents would find it boring to let the FACTS get in the way of a good rant but could I recommend them to DBC's excellent web site. There they will find under "Public Minutes" dated 11 Sept a comprehensive paper compiled by the Council's officers setting out the Council's options regarding Stressholme Golf Centre. It's a pity the Echo's own correspondent didn't read it before writing his article. One of the many facts contained in the paper is that for the year to 1st April 2012 the council subsidised Stressholme by 259,000 pounds. I hope that clears it up.for your readers.Annual subscriptions for private golf clubs are not assessed by how much the members want to pay.They are based on the estimated cost of running the club for a year divided by the number of members.Since no one knows how many members will join the new club it isn't possible to forecast,but to say it will be between the two current fees is pie in the sky.Current Stressholme members could be faced with an increase of about 50%.For those worried about it almost every club in Britain is a pay and play club.Blackwell has been for years.
I realise that many of your correspondents would find it boring to let the FACTS get in the way of a good rant but could I recommend them to DBC's excellent web site. There they will find under "Public Minutes" dated 11 Sept a comprehensive paper compiled by the Council's officers setting out the Council's options regarding Stressholme Golf Centre. It's a pity the Echo's own correspondent didn't read it before writing his article. One of the many facts contained in the paper is that for the year to 1st April 2012 the council subsidised Stressholme by 259,000 pounds. I hope that clears it up.for your readers.Annual subscriptions for private golf clubs are not assessed by how much the members want to pay.They are based on the estimated cost of running the club for a year divided by the number of members.Since no one knows how many members will join the new club it isn't possible to forecast,but to say it will be between the two current fees is pie in the sky.Current Stressholme members could be faced with an increase of about 50%.For those worried about it almost every club in Britain is a pay and play club.Blackwell has been for years. golf4all

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