Sunday, 27 June 2010

Mr Angry -Save our pitch and putt

Latest reader's letters - June 17

Published Date: 17 June 2010
THE latest letters from our readers
What are they thinking?
I WOULD like to try to unpick some of the various strands of your article on Beech Hurst, as I have to confess that I have no idea where the council is coming from on any of their thinking.You write that there are plans for a new mini golf course. Well, hang on a minute, I thought that's just what we had. You then refer to a crazy golf course. Beech Hurst isn't exactly Blackpool, or Brighton.

Does someone actually think that constructing a series of concrete holes with the odd windmill is a good idea for this beautiful site?

We then have the issue of its closure, without any announcement or attempt at consultation – normally a fatuous process anyway, but I have to say that a little bit of warning would have been appreciated. And what fantastic timing! Let's tell nobody until it's the beginning of the summer when we might actually want to go out and play.

Closing down the kiosk, which has acted as a booking hub for the tennis, golf and bowls, is also an award-winningly stupid idea. Yes, you can get more people to book online, and that's fine. But if you want to cut the place off at its knees, the best way to do that it is to make everyone have to book everything in advance.

It takes all spontaneity out of using the place, and instead wraps it up in bureaucracy and process. You'll get people who wanted to have a game of tennis of an afternoon because the weather was fine; or a quick game of petanque, unable to simply turn up, take their chances, pay and play.

None of the families who visit over the weekends when the sun comes out will have gone online the day before and made a booking. So in an instant you lose the opportunity to convert all these potential customers into paying users.

Nor can I grasp any of the underlying economics. According to Pru Moore: "The pitch and putt course and kiosk have been under-used for some time now." How exactly is the Kiosk 'under-used'?

It's there to help deliver services, and if you close the pitch and putt course then it certainly will be under-used. It only really needs to be staffed over the summer months, and it's the perfect job for a student. Four golfers an hour will probably be enough to off-set their costs, and then any impulse tennis or bowls bookings are incremental revenue.

And in time, fewer and fewer people will use these facilities, and the next press release from the council will be an announcement that they are closing them because of lack of demand.

We then get another couple of award-winningly stupid ideas. A wild flower meadow! Beech Hurst is a prime piece of cultivated recreational space for people to enjoy. We're surrounded by wonderful, natural, countryside if they hadn't noticed. So let's recreate some faux meadow land; at least it will keep the grass cutting bill down.

This will also finish off the chance of using this area as a golf course, as you'll have no chance of finding a golf ball if you're surrounded by deep meadow grass. So how you "explore the possibility of creating a mini golf course" whilst at the same time "encouraging the development of a wild flower meadow" beats me.

We then get another piece of fatuous council speak: "The council takes the issue of data protection seriously and when customers book online, information is encrypted to ensure that it is secure." Well, whoopee do! But what's that got to do with anything? Of course you've got a secure payment system. Everybody has. But I just want to be able to pay a couple of quid when it suits me to use your facilities, and I don't want to have to book in advance.

All in all, I'm left none the wiser by the council. I simply suspect that they are looking to run down what should be a wonderful place for the town.

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