FEARS a historic Wirral golf course could close for good after 87 years are growing despite interest from a number of new operators.

Brackenwood Golf Course, in Bebington, closed on March 31, but golfers at the club are passionate about saving it and say four operators are interested in reopening the course which had been run by Wirral Council. To make this happen, any new operator must go through the authority’s Community Asset Transfer (CAT) process which can take many months - a major problem according to Brackenwood members.

Keith Marsh, secretary of the men’s section at the course, said: “[Brackenwood] is a club of 87 years trying to stay afloat but it can only survive for so long. Every month of this process could jeopardise Brackenwood Golf Course forever.

“The course will significantly depreciate in value [if it’s left alone for months] and this will jeopardise any operator that wants to take it on.”

Wirral Council decided to close Brackenwood and Hoylake Municipal, two of four public golf courses in the borough, in its budget which was voted through at a full council meeting on February 28.

The move was passed as the council predicts it will save £328,000 towards the £20m the authority needs to save to address a major gap in its budget. It was one of many cuts passed on the night, with the authority also withdrawing funding from Woodchurch Leisure Centre and nine public libraries.

However, community groups will be given financial support should they put together successful bids to keep these services going, something Brackenwood and Hoylake Municipal will not benefit from.

But Mr Marsh is worried the slowness of the CAT process could see the course close forever. He added: “I am frustrated with the council, especially when there are alternatives to closing the course available.

“The council keeps saying it needs to set a balanced budget and we understand that. There are options available, but we have to move quickly. If we don’t, the opportunity could disappear.

“If it’s left alone we know what state the land will fall into and potential operators could withdraw their expressions of interest.” Thinking about the future of the 87-year-old course, Mr Marsh said: “I’m optimistic about the operators who are interested, but what we haven’t got is a council that will manage the process quickly enough for this to be realised.”

Wirral Council was approached for comment, but referred to a previous council meeting. At the Policy and Resources Committee meeting on March 16, Cllr Helen Cameron, chair of the Tourism and Leisure Committee, answered several questions from golfers about the future of Brackenwood.

Cllr Cameron said the permanent annual budget to operate Brackenwood Golf Course would cease and be removed from April 1, 2022. The Conservative councillor said subject to the outcomes of any public consultation, community groups or other organisations would be invited to express an interest in taking over assets that were regarded as surplus to the delivery of council services, which may provide value for the community.

Cllr Cameron was also asked what the council would do to protect assets such as Brackenwood before any community transfer is completed, with one member of the public asking the council to provide resources to protect the greens and agree for the community to take a lead role in looking after the course.

Cllr Cameron said there was no money allocated for this and if it were to be undertaken the funding would need to be taken from another service. On the question regarding the greens, she said that while the council would consider what could be done in the interim, there would be a cost for which there was no budget.

The council was also asked to commit to concluding the CAT process within three months. On this question, Cllr Janette Williamson, the Labour leader of the council, said it could not yet be accurately determined how long it would take to facilitate a CAT as it would depend upon the quality of the expression of interest and business plan, but that officers would work through any expressions of interest as expediently as possible with their available capacity.