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Carnoustie Golf Links controversy back on the table

Councillor Bill Bowles.
Councillor Bill Bowles.

Carnoustie’s controversial golf links development has come back into the Angus Council domain.

Carnoustie Golf Links Management Committee’s £4.75m project has divided the town with concerns being raised at the impact the new bar and restaurant would have on other businesses in the town.

Opponents to the expansion at the world-famous links have now forced a special meeting of the full council in Forfar on the thorny issue.

It follows a fiery meeting of the local authority last month when approval was given to CGLMC who want to borrow a near £3m loan from the Royal Bank of Scotland to fund the ambitious development.

The Links Committee requires the permission of Angus Council, which own the links, for any alterations to its facilities and also if it plans to borrow sums of more than £200,000.

During the meeting non-administration town councillor Bill Bowles tabled two amendments, both of which were ruled incompetent by Angus provost and fellow Carnoustie councillor Helen Oswald.

Mrs Oswald told Mr Bowles that issues regarding the amount of consultation undertaken, how money is spent and whether golfers would pay higher fees were all matters for the Links Management Committee.

Mr Bowles has now led a procedural challenge to the decision by forcing the matter back onto the table through a request for a suspension of the council’s standing orders, which would allow the elected members to get back into the debate about the issue.

Half-a-dozen fellow opposition councillors including Carnoustie councillor Brian Boyd have put their names to Mr Bowles’ motion ahead of the special meeting.

Mr Bowles said: “What’s lacking is transparency.

“This has been forced through – the business case doesn’t stack up; it’s fantasy.”

However, it remains a possibility that the meeting could vote not to suspend standing orders, a move which would effectively block any attempt to re-examine the decision.

The major expansion of the centre, which replaced the Carnoustie starter’s box, will include a restaurant and balconies for players and visitors to enjoy commanding views of the course’s opening and closing holes.

Mr Bowles said the CGLMC’s projected figures for trade were “unbelievable” and the reality would lead to “one hell of a shortfall”.

“We are asking that Carnoustie Golf Links Management Committee gather evidence over the summer to prove that this won’t be a massive loss making exercise – show us your financial forecasts are achievable,” he said.

Arbroath councillor Alex King previously suggested there was a “significant risk” the Open would not return to Carnoustie after the 2018 Championship if the facilities weren’t enhanced.

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