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Meeting with Councillors Knewstub and Costigan on Wednesday 29 November at 6.30pm at Perivale Park Athletics Park

 

In attendance Councillors Knewstub (PK) and Costigan (DC); PPGC Committee Members and PPGC Members, local residents and other interested parties.

 

Chair Joe Jadavjee (JJ)

 

Introduction

JJ provided emergency exit information.

 

Welcoming statement to members and introduction of councillors - Club Captain, Leslie Glancy (LG)

 

 PPGC’s attitude to the Ealing Regional Park (ERP) 

 

LG challenged the way the golf course was earmarked for closure in that Ealing Council (EC) had to start “somewhere” when there was no feasibility, project plan or funding in place.

 

The council’s own guidelines do suggest that stakeholders should be involved at the earliest possible time, this did not happen.

 

LG also challenged the idea of Perivale Park Golf Club (PPGC) being an elitist club as the demographics of those present shows otherwise.  There seems to be an anti-golf manifesto by EC.

 

 LG pointed out that PPGC supported the development of the Ealing Regional Park (ERP) and it also followed many of the requirements mentioned in their mission statement.

 

Harvindar Joshi , Vice-Captain (HJ) presented:

  1. PPGC’s understanding of why EC wanted the course to be part of ERP (to facilitate new leisure facilities; also create a regional hub to drive greenification to help with climate crises; make land available for housing; access to the whole community to green space - except golfers!)

  2. The reasons PPGC is an invaluable asset for the community and for the proposed ERP – “

  Why EC benefits from keeping the course open? 

  • Hub for social and mental support

  • Providing activities for older people

  • Incorporating and extending membership of young, females and ethnic members to try the sport without fear of derision (at many alternative “elitist” or “cliquish” golf clubs).

  • Safety provided by passive policing for, for walkers and runners around and within the golf course.

  3. HJ then paused to allow the councillors to respond, further detail of the reasons for our submission that PPGC is         an asset of community value are in the slides that will be included in the PPGC response to the consultation (see         below “Other benefits”).

 

 

As an aside, HJ had also noted:

  1. Golf usage of land to participants quoted by EC is based on inaccurately low figures.  Specifically, our projection of EC’s figures from 2023 show a total of 36,000 rounds of golf, which is 20% above EC’s figures.  This data will also be included in PPGC response pack.

  2. The growth in population of Ealing (quoted at around 18% in the council’s papers) do not appear to be supported by EC’s own referenced data – specifically the BPO* (government statistics source) figures of 2016.  Our interpretation of these will be included in the PPGC response pack.

 

Data presented by PPGC from September through to November showed 1,000 unique users of the course in 3 months.  60% were local residents and over 50% were over fifty. 

 

A door-to-door survey conducted in November of a small group of nearby local residents were overwhelming (17 out of 17 respondents) against change of the golf course and the ERP.

 

PPGC online petition with nearly 3,000 signatories and a campaign website with sensitive testimonials providing excellent traction.

 

 Other Benefits:  

The course provides urban lungs, protects wildlife, biodiversity, planting extra trees welcomed due to loses and encouraging insect life, assist with flood defences and control (course becomes muddy but is playable).  The course is part of a wider park, with the other sports facilities on the park having minimal activity.

 

Councillors were then invited to speak by JJ.

 

DC explained the procedure for having the closure approved in principle was so that council officers had a mandate from the council to proceed with further work on the ERP.

 

The reasons for the ERP included the labour manifesto promise to fight the climate crises to provide 10 new parks and 50,000 new trees.

 

PK stated that she was very aware of the community asset that Perivale Park Golf course represented but the council had to make very difficult decisions over the use of land and dwindling assets to benefit the wider community. 

 

PK stated it was not a financial decision to close the course.

 

PK went on to say that this was not an anti-golf debate.   Ealing are incredibly over indexed in golf courses and there is another public golf course nearby.   It is the only borough in London with 2 municipal courses. (This statement was challenged by a member who said that other boroughs have at least 2 municipal courses including Uxbridge and Richmond)

 

PK stated that the council wants to work with us in helping to make PPGC transition to Brent Valley Golf Course (BVGC) as easy as possible.  They are looking at redesigning the present BVGC course.

 

JJ opened the floor to questions and stated that it would be very difficult to put 9 flat holes in the middle of BVGC

 

HJ stated that the BVGC was unplayable from November to January because the flatter section is on the flood plain [with poor drainage].

 

Anna (local resident) stated that she liked to walk in the area/course and the golfers helped to look after the facilities and also asked about what the plans were for Gurnell Swimming Pool.

 

PK said there were plans to reopen the Gurnell Swimming Pool and would be a public meeting about it on Thursday 30th November. PK reference her own children learning to swim at Gurnell.  JJ replied by stating golfers, children & grandchildren would not be able to learn to play golf at Perivale.

 

Peter (user of golf course) mentioned an area called Willow Tree near Yeading would be an alternative venue for the ERP.

 

Terry (PPGC member) asked when the feasibility study for ERP would be completed and when would we know the outcome?  The councillors responded by saying the feasibility study should be available in June. 

 

Aki (PPGC member) pointed out that EC’s usage of the course numbers did not make sense where did the 10 unique users come from? Even Everyone Active did not know where this data has come from.  DC replied by saying that if we disagreed with the figures, we should make our views heard.

 

George (PPGC member and pensioner) pointed out the savings to NHS from the benefits this unique course and club provides for physically and mentally and elderly.  HJ reinforced this with reference to the reduction in social care costs which are borne by the local council.  We note recent actual or close bankruptcies of some municipal authorities in the UK, largely down to pressures of mandatory social care obligations.

 

Colin (PPGC member) mentioned the benefits to mental health and how his own story was of greatly improved mental wellbeing after joining the club and had made many friends.

George (PPGC member) pointed out to EC alternative courses were either hilly or costly to use.

 

David Chapman (DCH) pointed out the EC Consultation Survey was biased as it had no reference to older people and did not mention golf as a feasible sport.

 

Christine (Mental Health Specialist) stated that loneliness has been declared by WHO as a global issue and they have launched an international commission to combat it.  Loneliness and social isolation can affect physical health including increase risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia.  As many users of the course live on their own so catching up with their friends on a daily basis to participate in a game of golf is their only social outlet and exercise.

 

Peter (user of the course) wanted to know how the course was financed and the councillors said it cost £27,000 a year to subsidise the course, and noted this is not a large subsidy.  The audience was pleased to hear this acknowledgment as it corresponds to less than £27 per golfer per annum, using only the count of unique signatories collected by PPGC since 07 September 2023.

 

Bhupinder (PPGC committee member) questioned the timing of the closure: why was the course earmarked to close in March, when the feasibility study will not be completed until the summer?  It would mean the course would become overgrown and then it would become costly to revert back to original state. There was a request to keep the course open longer while plans for finance, feasibility and a map of the ERP was produced. PK said that this would be considered, and it could be a possibility, however DC said she could not make a commitment at this time.

 

George stated a business case would only follow after a feasibility study.

 

Aki pointed out that there was plenty of other land available within Perivale Park and outside of it.

 

Margaret (PPGC member) asked about the importance of the feasibility study and consultation survey in making a decision on the ERP.

 

DC replied all evidence/parts of the process are taken into account.

 

DC also stated the fact that Ealing Council owned the land, made it easier for them to decide what use could be made of it.

 

 Presentation of PPGC reconfiguration by Dave Chapman (DCH), PPGC Committee Member 

 

DCH presented first diagram showing the course as it is at present.  He pointed out the areas that flooded and the Gurnell/Greenford Greenway. 

 

His second diagram showed the picture of the present course and on there he pointed out a series of crosses which demonstrated where new trees could be planted with input from a club member who is arborist/tree manager, he suggested positions to plant approximately 240 trees.

 

These trees would be protected by the Ground Under Repair (GUR) golf rule, so members would not play their golf balls near the trees.

 

The third diagram showed how the course could be reconfigured to provide extra land for rewilding and other facilities.  It would mean changes to holes 7, 8, and 9 and also making available some of the practice areas.  This would release 7 hectares of land for other use.

 

DCH also went on to suggest other ideas including family friendly weekend activities and early bird rates.  It was pointed out to give the public more and safer access to the course.

 

Councillors were impressed with the amount of work that had gone into the proposal and acknowledged that the club were doing their best to be part of the ERP.  They said the proposal should be included in our consultation submission to the council. PK said that the proposal would be taken back to the planners for consideration.

 

At the end of presentation LG thanked DCH for his hard work and commitment.

 

DC addressed the issue about flooding and said that they were looking at alternative advanced technology solutions to prevent flooding.

 

LG pointed out the extensive land outside of the Perivale Park only used by dog walkers and the minimal use of other facilities within the park when the golf course is in constant use all year round.

 

LG also suggested that the whole area could be converted to a major sporting complex for this generation and future generations.  The multiple sporting facilities of the area should have at his heart Perivale Park Golf Course which is the little jewel in the crown.

 

The meeting ended at 8.15pm.

 

Addenda: * BPO (Borough Preferred Option (2016) population projections): used by EC and its agents and consultants to determine demand for health, infrastructure and other borough needs.

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