New lease of life for golf course

CLUBBING TOGETHER: Members have formed a company to run Elemore Golf Club, after the course was threatened with closure. From left, chairman Daniel O'Connor, president Peter Carr and secretary Bill Allen.

CLUBBING TOGETHER: Members have formed a company to run Elemore Golf Club, after the course was threatened with closure. From left, chairman Daniel O'Connor, president Peter Carr and secretary Bill Allen.

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THE future of Wearside’s only remaining public golf course is close to being secured.

There were fears that Elemore Golf Club, in Easington Lane, would be forced to shut after a cash crisis.

Sunderland City Council, which subsidises the club, said recently that because of a £58million reduction in its budget it would be unable to continue providing funding.

Despite making the club open to offers over the summer, no suitable bids were forthcoming.

But now a new company, set up by the golfers, is in talks to take over Elemore as a not-for-profit community club.

After discussions with members at the club, the council is this week serving the notice on the course’s current operator, Golf Course Management Ltd.

The authority said the new club management may take on the lease of the course at a peppercorn rent, from the start of April.

The members, who have formed a company called Hetton-le-Hill Community Golf Club to take over Elemore, are now hoping to strike a deal with the council and make the venue more accessible for people in the area.

“It’s fantastic news,” said Daniel O’Connor, who is part of the group which could take over running the course.

“The members have had a lot of difficulties with regards to the club in recent years.”

Mr O’Connor also said that the new committee would hope to change the name of the club.

Councillor Mel Speding, cabinet secretary, said that the council does not have a provision in its budget to subsidise golf.

Regarding Elemore, he said: “Initial discussions revealed that the club was willing to explore a community-led golf operation with the council, and a series of meetings have been held with a view to them developing a business plan.

“If these negotiations continue to prove successful, then we could see a community-based organisation, in the form of the club, taking over the running of the golf course from the beginning of April.”

Mr O’Connor added: “We owe a real debt of gratitude to accountant David Armstrong who has helped us. We are also thankful to Sunderland City Council and John Price at Hetton Town Council.”

Twitter: @davidallison88