Plan to replace 90-year-old Temple Newsam Golf Course with family cycling centre labelled 'a shambles'

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A fresh row has erupted over controversial plans to close Temple Newsam Golf Course.

Opposition members of Leeds City Council branded plans to consult on replacing the 90-year-old course with a family cycling centre as “ham-fisted” and “a shambles”.

But council executive members hit back, claiming the course was too costly to maintain and that no decision had yet been made on its fate.

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During a full Leeds City Council meeting, Coun Andrew Carter (Con) presented a motion, known as a “white paper”, which claimed “all but essential maintenance works on the golf courses have ceased”, and called for the authority to reverse the plans.

Temple Newsam Golf Course.Temple Newsam Golf Course.
Temple Newsam Golf Course.

Supporting the motion, Coun Carter told the meeting: “The residents of Leeds are too aware of that administration’s history on consulting local residents, and far too many of them in the past few years have been nothing more than a railroading attempt to reach a conclusion that had already been arrived at.

“We are discussing a shambles of a situation brought about entirely by the administration of this city.

“The members of Temple Newsam know that change is coming, but they want a fair crack of the whip. You are proposing to borrow £1.3m to put in a scheme that will lose £160,000 a year.

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“You should start again on a blank sheet of paper so the public of Leeds feel they get a fair crack of the whip. It was ham-fistedly handled and you need to get out of it.”

Leeds City Council’s cabinet member for environment Coun Mohammed Rafique responded: “The white paper is not accurate and doesn’t do justice to the hard work of council staff within parks and countryside.

“Maintenance of the golf course has not been scaled back or reduced at all. It is insulting to workers who maintain it to suggest that.

“Papers go to executive board, we have a discussion and we find a way forward. It happens all the time, so stop making politics out of it. No decision has been made on the future of the Temple Newsam estate.

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He added that, since 2011, the course has seen a 65 per cent reduction in “pay and play” numbers, and a 60 per cent reduction in season ticket holders.

Coun Rafique also said the council had to spend a subsidy of £220,000 per year to keep the course running.

Coun David Blackburn (Green) said: “If we have got a group of people who are using it, we want to encourage them as well.

“It seems to me we are closing one group of people out to let another in, and using that so-called saving to finance what you are doing in the future.”

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Coun Stewart Golton (Lib Dem) said: “I am no fan of golf, however, we are not here to think about investing in what we like to do – it’s more about serving our people.

“There has been a successful cycling investment made in Middleton Park that was well received. But it doesn’t mean you have to replicate it in other places.

“If we are serious about being an age-friendly city, we need to take into account that there are activities that older people participate in – golf is one of those.”

Coun Sam Firth (Con) said: “Politics is changing – people no longer care about political parties, people care about local issues.

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“One thing that this side of the chamber will make sure is that people have a say in their community – without them the golf club wouldn’t have been built in the first place.”

Coun Debra Coupar (Lab) said: “I can’t believe the hypocrisy of this white paper. Coun Carter, supporter of the government that has cut this council’s funding to the bone. He is using this consultation as a political football.

“Since 2010 our core funding has been reduced by £267m in the name of austerity.

“The executive board agreed that a consultation should take place on the future of Temple Newsam golf courses, they wanted to see the results come back to executive board. This is a genuine consultation that welcomes all views.”

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Summing up, Coun Carter said: “They were putting forward a fait accompli whether they like it or not.

“You have made a massive mistake, and to try and blame the government – you brought the paper, it is entirely your fault and you have the opportunity to put it right and bring forward a positive plan.

“This should be a win-win situation, and if you’d spoken to the people in Temple Newsam in the first place you wouldn’t be in this situation.”

Coun Carter’s proposed white paper read: “This Council is concerned at the administration’s proposals to close Temple Newsam golf course. Temple Newsam and its wider estate is a key asset for the city. Council is disappointed at the limited scope of the report considered by the Executive Board in October containing, as it did, only one option in relation to the development of facilities at Temple Newsam.

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“Council is also concerned that the final decision on this important issue would have been left to council officers, via delegated decision, had it not been for the intervention of the Leader of the Opposition.

“Council notes reports from golf club members that all but essential maintenance works on the golf courses have ceased. Council believes that this seriously undermines the consultation process as it suggests that a decision has already been taken about the future of golf at Temple


“This Council believes that that there is sufficient scope for both golf and other facilities, including cycling, to be developed at Temple Newsam and calls for the proposals to close the golf facilities to be reversed with immediate effect.”

However, an amended motion submitted by Coun Rafique read: “This Council notes the commitment to invest £1.35m to improve facilities on the Temple Newsam estate, one of Leeds’ greatest historical assets, and believes the best way to decide what improvements should be made is to first ask local residents through a public consultation.

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“Council notes the consultation exercise has been extended to ensure consideration of concerns expressed by members of Temple Newsam Golf Club. Council is committed to ensuring all Leeds residents are able to access a municipal golf course and notes any decision about the future of Temple Newsam Golf Club will not be taken until the results of the consultation have been fully considered by the Executive Board.

“Council notes that all Administration members of Executive Board voted to ensure the final decision in relation to the Golf Course is taken by Executive Board.

“This Council calls for all views and responses from Leeds residents on the future of the facilities on the Temple Newsam estate to be given full consideration by Executive Board following the conclusion of the consultation exercise.”

A vote took place on the amendment in the name of Coun Rafique, which was passed.