Golf courses and libraries avoid closure but Europa Pools will go after critical meeting

GOLF courses, libraries and a leisure center in Wirral have been given a reprieve from permanent closure.

The local authority’s Tourism, Communities, Culture and Leisure Committee has come forward tonight with proposals to advance a number of sites to the next stage of Community Asset Transfers with the aim of keep open. Among the places spared from the permanent closure were Brackenwood and Hoylake golf courses, with golf’s governing body the Royal and Ancient (R&A) stepping in to call for Hoylake to be saved.

The R&A said the Hoylake course “is a key piece of infrastructure for The Open Golf Championship and without it they cannot run this global event. In terms of investment, The Open is worth around £100 million. pounds for the economy of Wirral and the Liverpool City region.

Bebington Green Party member Judith Grier said keeping Brackenwood gave the council a “real opportunity, not just for the golf course, but to make it a really great place for everyone. The council’s tennis bid will remain after the sport’s governing body, the Lawn Tennis Association, agreed to secure funding for the service and to work with Wirral Council to appoint an operator to exclusively run the six indoor courts and the three outdoor courts.

Oxton Liberal Democrat Cllr Alan Brame said he was “pleased” the courts would remain open as there had been a “clear demand” for the provision to be kept. A new system for borough libraries was also adopted, with four retainers at Birkenhead Central, West Kirby, Wallasey Central and Bebington Central, with four further smaller locations at Eastham, Moreton, Upton and Heswall. Libraries slated for closure in Hoylake, Irby, Pensby, Prenton, Wallasey Village, Higher Bebington and Woodchurch will also move into the next stage of a community asset transfer.

Prenton Green Party Cllr Naomi Graham said: “We have heard how important libraries are to the people of Wirral. We wouldn’t want to close any, but we are aware of the budget.

She added that libraries selected to remain open must be based on “demonstrated need”. The Woodchurch Leisure Center in Birkenhead, which was also due to close, also saw the light of day on the 11th hour as it too will move into the next stage of transfer to community ownership.

Not all has been positive for the borough’s leisure facilities, as it has been confirmed that the Europa Pools leisure pool will be closed. Kings Parade and Wallasey Beach pitch n putt golf courses will also be closed for good. Committee chair Cllr Helen Cameron said the decision was “unfortunate”.

The decision to close venues is part of the Wirral Council’s £20million savings program to fill its financial gaps. New Ferry Library will close from October this year as no expressions of interest have been received, but Bromborough Library could still be maintained through a transfer of assets.

However, a new fitness offer will be provided in the space previously occupied by Europa’s leisure pool. Reports will be prepared on the progress of the next stage of the asset transfer process to report back to the committee in October.

Michael C. Ford