A FIRE on a Wirral golf course has been described as “blatant vandalism”.

The fire broke out on Brackenwood Golf Course yesterday afternoon (Thursday, April 21), in the latest of several incidents reported at the Bebington course since it was closed by Wirral Council at the end of last month.

Alan Harwood, 64, a member of the golf club, said: “As a club and committee member I am devastated to see such blatant vandalism, we warned the council this would happen if the course was left unattended. Unfortunately we were right.”

Describing what happened yesterday, Mr Harwood continued: “I was on the course yesterday as usual doing my litter pick when I noticed plumes of smoke drifting across the course. I made my way over to find half a dozen dog walkers in the area, luckily one had already phoned 999.

“I stayed to direct the fire crew onto the course as there is only one way wide enough to get the engine through which was padlocked, but the crew had it in hand [and cut off] the lock, it was extinguished in no time but could have been a lot worse.

“The ironic thing is just half an hour earlier we had a group of people interested in taking over the running of the course inspecting the area close to where the fire took hold. I’m not sure if they noticed.”

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service was alerted to the incident at 1.59pm yesterday and arrived just two minutes later. It is understood crews were met with a large quantity of logs on fire and used a high pressure hose reel to extinguish the fire. They left the scene at 2.43pm.

The move to close Brackenwood, along with Hoylake Municipal, 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 at a meeting of all of Wirral’s councillors on February 28, 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, meaning golfers must find alternative providers to run the courses without any council support.

At a meeting of Wirral Council’s Policy and Resources Committee on March 16, Conservative councillor Helen Cameron was 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.