Garnant Golf Club: We will find a way forward – Kevin
10:33am Thursday 16th January 2014 in News
CLLR Kevin Madge has today pledged "to do everything in my power" to ensure there is still some kind of future for Garnant Golf Club.
And the Carmarthenshire County Council leader strongly defended the local authority's decision to subsidise Clay's Golf, the Wrexham-based company who took over the running of the club in September 2011.
AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas has called for a full inquiry into the closure of the club just weeks after the £160,000 taxpayer subsidy ended. Mr Thomas said serious questions needed to be answered about the business case for the club and the local authority's decision to give away the best part of £200,000 of taxpayers’ money.
But Cllr Madge insisted the county council had fulfilled "a duty" by providing financial support. "A lot of public investment has gone into this club over a number of years," he said. "It was our duty to try and help keep it going.
"At the end of the day we pulled out all the stops to bring these first-class facilities to the Amman Valley – and I make no apologies for that.
"I've had a meeting with staff who are understandably shellshocked by what's happened. I'm very unhappy that Clay's Golf did not have the decency to tell either them or the county council that they had gone into administration.
"I have a meeting with officers next week and we're going to do everything we can to find a way to get vthe club back up and running. It has almost 300 members and one thing we'll be looking at is a possible members' buy-out."
In a statement posted on the club's website, Clay's Golf managing director Steve Williams said: "It is with great regret that we have to inform the membership that Garnant Golf Club Ltd has now effectively gone into liquidation.
"I am not going to try and explain myself with the complexity of the operation of the golf club only that we tried all ways to keep the club operational but unfortunately ran out of cash.
"For everyone’s benefit we also pumped a great deal of our own cash into this project, I wish everyone the best for the future and hope that one day you can understand that we were unable to carry this any further."
The 25-year lease tender put out by the council promised a maximum subsidy of £200,000 for the first five years. The final deal resulted in £160,000 subsidy over two years with rent free of charge until 2018.
“There is a worrying picture being painted that taxpayers’ money is not being spent responsibly,”said Mr Thomas.
“On the face of it, the closure of the golf club looks like another private project which is being underwritten by public money.
"The decision to provide a substantial public subsidy and six years' free rent rests squarely with the leadership of the county council and the leadership must now take responsibility for its actions."
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