A group of Wirral councillors were tonight narrowly defeated after they called for a £200million golf resort in Hoylake to be scrapped.
At a three hour long, emergency meeting at Wallasey Town Hall, attended by around 200 protestors, councillors voted in favour of the project continuing to the next stage.
The scheme includes two new championship golf courses – including the only Jack Nicklaus designed municipal course in the country, along with a luxury hotel, conference centre and new houses.
The council has reported the project could create up to 300 jobs and increase revenue to be invested in public services.
However, multiple concerns have been raised by those protesting against the project including worries over:
- building on greenbelt land, particularly focused on the luxury housing which forms part of the project
- the potential for flooding
- increased levels of traffic
- scepticism over the economic benefits
- the risk to taxpayers’ money as part of the project’s funding.
Speaking at the council meeting, Councillor Chris Blakeley, Conservative Councillor for Moreton West & Saughall Massie, who brought one of the motions calling for the scheme to be withdrawn, warned that once greenbelt land was lost, it was lost for good.
He added: “This Celtic Manor is an expensive pipe dream which would harm our greenbelt and should be dropped immediately.”
Councillor Phil Gilchrist, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Eastham, who also brought a motion against the project, raised concerns about the funding package and the building of luxury homes on greenbelt land, as part of the development.
He added: “This is a project that appears, to me, to have had its day.”
Councillor Phil Davies, leader of the council and Labour councillor for Birkenhead and Tranmere, brought a motion asking for plans to go to the next stage, with a special meeting of the scrutiny committee to consider all aspects of the scheme in more detail. It is unclear when that meeting will take place but its recommendations will then be considered by the council’s cabinet, which will decide whether the resort will ultimately go ahead or not.
He said: “My fear is that if we say this scheme should be abandoned, without proper due diligence, it will send the message to potential investors that Wirral is closed for business and the danger is people will go elsewhere.”
Councillor David Elderton, Conservative councillor for West Kirby and Thurstaston, echoed concerns about the funding package for the project and described it as “monumentally flawed from a financial perspective”.
Councillor Jeff Green, Conservative councillor for West Kirby and Thurstaston, also raised worries about £1million of council tax money, which he said had already been invested in the project and referred to a further £26million of council tax payers liability if the project went ahead.
Councillor Davies’ motion was carried with 32 for and 29 against, Councillor Blakeley’s motion was lost with 31 in favour and 32 against and Cllr Gilchrist’s motion was lost with 30 votes in favour and 33 against.
You can read more about the arguments for and against the project here – http://westkirby.today/2019/02/25/fore-battle-hoylakes-200-million-golf-resort/