“You’re not listening and have badly let us down.”
That’s the message being sent to councillors in Glasgow by an action group opposed to the closure of the city’s municipal golf courses.
William McLachlan, the chairperson of Friends Of Alexandra Park, has told bunkered.co.uk of his dismay at the prospect of the courses being closed – a prospect that appears to have moved a huge step forward following a meeting in the city chambers on Thursday.
Budget proposals tabled by the SNP and Green Party passed in favour of alternatives put forth by both the Labour Party and Conservative Party.
Within the SNP/Green plans is a provision for the nine-hole course at Knightswood to be retained under the management of Glasgow Life.
However, the five other courses currently operated by the local authority – Linn Park, Lethamhill, Littlehill, Ruchill and Alexandra Park – face a less certain future, with the closure of all five a real possibility unless suitable new arrangements can be found.
According to McLachlan, the loss of Alexandra Park, in particular, would be a massive blow to the people of the city’s east end.
“Look where Knightswood is and where we are,” he said. “It feels like the west end gets everything but the east end gets ignored time and time again.
“Don’t get me wrong, we were half-expecting the news on Thursday but it still came as a massive blow. We’re hoping they’ll change their mind but I’d be lying if I said any of us were feeling optimistic. We’ve not been listened to so far so it’s hard to see how that will change.
“We’re just gutted.”
Golf has been played in Alexandra Park for almost 150 years, dating back to 1871. However, its future was cast into doubt last summer with the announcement of a public consultation, hosted by Glasgow Life, into the six courses it operates on behalf of the city council.
It was at that point that the Friends Of Alexandra Park group was mobilised. McLachlan heads up a seven-person committee, with the group’s Facebook page having attracted more than 500 members.
“The consultation was completely flawed,” added McLachlan. “Very few people even seemed to know about it. It felt like it a box-ticking exercise, as though officials were paying lip-service to us but had already made up their minds.
“For example, we had a meeting with Bailie Norman McLeod around August-September time last year and he promised that, once the results were known, he’d make sure we were told. That was the last we ever heard from him. He never got back in touch. The first we heard of the outcome of the consultation was when we read in the media last week that the majority of respondents were opposed to the closures.
“If that is indeed the case, then it’s clear that we are not being listened to. That makes it very hard to trust our elected officials. It’s almost as if they’re saying to us, ‘Tough – we’re going to do as we please’. I understand that times are tough for everyone but surely we could have looked at other options.”
The budget passed by the city council doesn’t explicitly say which of the courses will close or when, giving rise to hope that the courses may stay still stay open.
It’s a faint hope, as far as McLachlan is concerned.
“I’d say there’s a 5% chance of that happening,” he said. “But we will continue to fight until it’s over. We have to cling to that glimmer of hope that things might change. But we need help. I’d encourage anybody reading this to come and play our course, and the other courses that are under threat, and to show their support with their clubs and their feet.
“These facilities are vitally important. We cannot afford to lose them.”
bunkered.co.uk reached out to Glasgow Life for comment on the implications of the council’s budget decision on Friday afternoon. We are awaiting their reply.