Labour Group proposing to exclude golf courses from long-term private leases

At the Full Council Meeting on Thursday 17th July, the Labour Group will be proposing to exclude Broome Manor and Highworth Golf Courses from being transferred on long-term leases to a private company chosen by the administration of the Council.

In 2013/14 Broome Manor Golf Course made a surplus of £60,000 and Highworth Golf Course required a subsidy of £33,000. Broome Manor Golf Course’s catering made a deficit in 2013/14 of £70,000 which was as a result of £147,600 of recent refurbishment to the clubhouse’s restaurant and bar, which is expected to be paid back over five years from increased income and then generating significant surpluses over the next ten years.

With this in mind why would Swindon Council want to transfer facilities that will make it money and help mitigate the cuts that have to be made in other areas of the Council’s budget? If Labour were running the Council, we would keep Broome Manor and Highworth Golf as Municipal courses, generating a profit for the Council and retaining control over the vast land that these courses occupy.

We are also concerned over the suitability of the company the Council has chosen to run these Municipal Golf Courses. While I have no concerns about the integrity of this company, there are a number of factors that in my opinion raises too much doubt to whether this company is suitable to run our courses. For example, in their most recent published Company Check accounts it states the company only has £6,064 in their account. It is also a “small” company (as defined by Company Check), only having two golf courses (one of which being a 9 hole course) being transferred to them on long-term leases and I understand one of these courses are being operated by a separate company sub-let to them and the other is set to have new football pitches built on the site of the golf club . And finally the Labour Group have received advice from a Professor in Financial Statement analysis of Lancaster University, when presented with the information publicly available, said that this company is not suitable to manage such a large venture.

So, to conclude, we do not think it is necessary for Swindon Council to transfer Broome Manor and Highworth Golf Courses on long-term leases as together they pay for themselves and have the capacity in future years to generate significant profits for the council. However if there was a need to transfer these golf courses, the company chosen doesn’t seem to be suitable to take on the running of such a large asset portfolio.

Cllr Jim Grant
Swindon Labour Group Leader