A community golf course that could be a “vital site” in the search for the battle that “gave birth” to England will reopen.
Brackenwood Golf Course was closed in 2022 by Wirral Council as part of sweeping budget cuts that year. Since then, its future as a golf course has remained uncertain with a long process to get a successful bid to take it over.
After 14 months, Brackenwood Golf Club will take over the course after agreeing to provide six sports pitches which will see it finally reopen.
Members of the golf club packed out a policy and resources meeting and a spill-out room on 27 July where councillors thanked them for their hard work in maintaining the golf course for free.
When councillors unanimously agreed to reopen the course, there were cheers and applause as well as a standing ovation, something one councillor reportedly said had never happened in their 35 years on the council.
The golf club will also allow access to the site to archeologists. According to David Allen from Wirral Archeology CIC, the course is a “potentially vital site in the search for the location of Brunanburh, which is generally recognized as the battle that gave birth to the English nation.”
Christine Smoley, a neighbour to the course on Bracken Lane, said the golf club had “tirelessly given their time and energy in all weathers to keep the course fit for purpose” and provide routes for dog walkers like her.
She described it as “a labour of love with no cost to the council” and that the course had “biodiversity coming out of its ears” with bats, foxes, hedgehogs, butterflies, buzzards, woodpeckers, and owls.
Keith Marsh, Secretary of Brackenwood Golf Club, thanked officers and said he was “really pleased” the council now had confidence in its plan, adding: “I would like to place on record how immensely proud I am of the team behind this bid.”
He paid tribute to thousands of people who supported them, adding, “It is the community right behind us in droves that has made us relentless in our vision for the future. They have given us strength when we were down and have shared in delight when we have celebrated successes along the way.”
Mr Marsh told the LDRS free golf for children and affordable golf for all will be provided and he was “absolutely delighted” with the outcome. He added: “It’s been a very anxious and exhausting couple of years but now we hope to see a reinvigorated Brackenwood for future generations.”
After the vote, council leader Paul Stuart said, “I applaud their tenacity and their determination. They have worked hard and demonstrated how passionate they are and that this means so much to them.
“I would say there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Everyone had tears of joy, they were thankful, and they deserved it.”
The provision of sports pitches was a key issue for Brackenwood. Due to the huge regeneration projects currently being undertaken by Wirral Council, it has to show the government it can provide brand new sports pitches if those brownfield developments can ever go ahead.
Council officers said they were talking to a number of schools across Wirral about getting agreements to open up their sports pitches to the public to make up for any shortfall.
Environment committee chair Liz Grey also praised the golf club for “really being careful and mindful about nature and they’re really putting a lot of effort into promoting biodiversity.”
She said, “They want to work more closely with ecologists. Now I’m really impressed by this. This is really helpful. This is a really good sign.”
Cllr Helen Cameron who leads the committee that managed the transfer said the golf club was “a demonstration of sheer grit and tenacity and physical backbreaking work maintaining this course. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Thank you for all of your efforts..”
Bebington councillors Ed Lamb, Judith Grief, and Jason Walsh said, “We are absolutely delighted with this outcome. Brackenwood Community Golf deserve every bit of this success.
“They’ve worked with local people, listened to residents and come up with a fantastic plan that not only secures affordable golf for residents on Wirral but provides access to a beautiful green space for everyone.”
The committee also decided during a private part of the meeting to agree a letter of intent transferring Woodchurch Leisure Centre to Woodchurch Wellbeing if they revise their business plan and get additional funding to take it over.
Cllr Stuart said the letter will provide assurances to any potential funders or donors who might support the bid. If a revised business plan and funding is submitted to the council by 27 October, it will be considered in November.
If this doesn’t happen or the bid is withdrawn, the leisure centre would be demolished.
Image: Brackenwood Golf Course