Stressholme Golf Course in Darlington could close if merger deal fails (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting DST to 80360 or email us
Stressholme Golf Course in Darlington could close if merger deal fails
A POPULAR golf course could close if a proposed land swap deal fails, a council leader says.
The council-run Stressholme Golf Course, in Darlington, could fall victim to cuts in council spending if terms for a merger with a neighbouring members’ club cannot be agreed.
Last week, proposals were revealed for the £1m merger with neighbouring Blackwell Grange Golf Club, which is privately run.
The issue was discussed at a meeting of Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet last night, with members shown a report on the future of Stressholme.
Councillors agreed to the principle of merging the two courses, subject to conditions, including the agreement of Blackwell members, who are expected to vote on the issue in November.
Director of resources Paul Wildsmith has been granted delegated powers to conduct further negotiations with Blackwell over the terms of the deal.
The council subsidises Stressholme by about £80,000 a year, but needs to save £24m over the next three years.
Discussions over the future of Stressholme began earlier this year, with five options initially considered – the merger being one.
Others included outright closure and conversion to farmland, selling to a private operator for about £750,000 or putting it in the hands of a leisure trust.
Negotiations with Blackwell were considered the best option, with the possibility of land vacated by the merger being used for executive housing.
Councillor Charles Johnson, a member of the opposing Tory group, asked what would happen if the merger failed.
Council leader Bill Dixon said: “Plan B is the closure of Stressholme.”
Darlington has been described as a hotspot for golfers, with more facilities in the borough than similarsized ones in the region.
Referring to an earlier discussion about planned benefit cuts, Coun Dixon said: “As much as I like golf, I think it is more important for bairns to have food and shoes on their feet than for people to have more golf courses than they can shake a five iron at.”
Should Blackwell members approve the deal, consultation with local residents would follow, with a final decision in January.