PLANS to privatise the running of municipal golf courses in Wirral have been scrapped after a review.

In June, the council's cabinet announced it would transfer running of the two courses at Arrowe Park and The Warrens in Wallasey to private companies, leaving the future of the other two courses – Brackenwood and Hoylake – in doubt.

The proposal sparked outcry from course users and opposition councillors.

Following concerns raised by the clubs at all four courses that they had not been consulted, Conservative councillors, led by then chair of the Environment Committee, Cllr Chris Blakeley, called in the decision to enable scrutiny of some of the reasons given for the plan.

Councillors challenged the lack of financial detail in the cabinet's plan and, following visits to all four courses and meetings with club members, recommended that the cabinet think again.

As a result, the planned privatisation was scrapped, a three-point plan for the future of all four courses has been agreed.

It includes a ground survey of all four courses, to be followed by a phased capital investment over the next eight years.

The freeze on new maintenance equipment will also be lifted and a consultative group with course players and clubs be established.

Cllr Janette Williamson, cabinet member for Finance and Resources, said: "My colleague, the cabinet member for Community Services, Cllr Julie McManus, welcomed the opportunity to look again at this proposal and listen further to the concerns and ideas of golfers and members of the committee.

"While it remained clear that changes had to be made to how municipal courses in Wirral were managed, it was also clear to Julie that there were further options that could be explored that meant we could keep them in-house and give greater security to all those involved, particularly staff.

"What we are now looking to do is invest in these courses and make significant improvements to how they are managed; looking at opportunities to maximise the income the council can achieve, not just directly through golf but also from the secondary opportunities that exist.

"We will commission a ground survey at each course to find out exactly what needs to be done over the coming years to bring them up to standard.

"Related to that, although the 1% rise in the interest rate from the Public Works Loan Board makes borrowing more expensive now for local authorities, we will make sure there is provision in our capital spending programme to invest in improvements to courses and equipment.

"We will also establish a dedicated service area for golf, bringing in the expertise which at present sits across a number of different council departments.

"They will work together across all sites to ensure consistency and efficiency and ultimately create and deliver a new vision for municipal golf in Wirral.

"This will be supported by the establishment of a new consultative user group, who will ensure the voice of those who use the facilities is heard when it comes to decision-making."

The new chair of the environment committee, Cllr Tom Anderson, said: "I would like to thank the cabinet member for listening to the concerns of the clubs and for having the bottle to admit the previous plan was misguided.

"It was clear that all four courses have great potential to attract additional players, at reasonable cost, meaning the sport continues to be available to the many, not the few.

"I look forward to working with the clubs and the cabinet member to make sure the additional investment we have requested is well-spent and that the future of the four courses is protected for years to come."