Council defends losses at Eastbourne golf club

Eastbourne Downs Golf Club (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-171210-094228008
Eastbourne Downs Golf Club (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-171210-094228008

Financial losses running into tens of thousands of pounds at an Eastbourne golf club have been defended by the council.

The local authority took over the running of the Downs Golf Club on the A259 East Dean road in January 2018 after it took legal action against the club’s board of members over a £90,000 bill for unpaid rent.

Eastbourne Downs Golf Club (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-171210-094259008

Eastbourne Downs Golf Club (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-171210-094259008

Staff at the club were taken on by the council and a fresh injection of cash invested.

But, according to a Freedom of Information request, the club suffered a loss of £168,634 in the last year since the council took it over.

A council spokesperson said this week, “We took over a failing golf club at the start of 2018.

“The entire operation has required significant investment and systems changes to enable it function properly.

“The latest phase, currently being finalised, is our plan to develop and reconfigure the clubhouse so we can extend our dining and events offer.

“Our objective is transform the golf club so it is sustainable in the long term.”

The reported losses have not gone down well with one resident.

Businesswoman Kothai Krishnasamy said she was upset at “how cavalier the council is with our taxes”.

She said, “The council is wasting massive amounts of money on ‘trophy’ acquisitions at the same time complaining it has to make huge cuts to public services because of cuts to funding from central government.

“The council is wasting this kind of money at the same time as the number of homeless people forced to live on the streets is increasing. It is atrocious.

“I feel outraged by the wanton lack of respect for our money, for their irresponsibility. They need to be held accountable.”

In 2017 and with a rent bill outstanding, Eastbourne council went to court and a judge found in favour of the local authority calling on the club to forfeit the lease on the golf course and clubhouse.

The club, where membership is around the £600 a year mark, was first laid out in 1908 alongside the main A259 at the top of the hill.

It is known for its downland setting and spectacular views and catering offering.