Public outcry after Luton Council reveals plans to shut Stockwood Park
Proposals to close the Stockwood Park Golf Center in Hertfordshire have sparked anger among club members and the general public.
Luton Borough Council has launched a public survey on its plans to close the golf center, which has an 18-hole, par-3-9-hole and 21-bay driving range to offset lost income other areas, including Luton Airport, which saw a significant drop in sales during the pandemic.
Paul Hulme, Club Captain at Stockwood Park, said: “I am disgusted that during a pandemic, when golf participation increases and we need more green space than ever, the council is considering closing such a valuable asset for the people of Luton. The Stockwood Park Golf Center has over 250 members and attracts golf companies and casual players from a wide area.
“When the course is closed, the council reinforces the prejudice that golf is a game reserved for old, rich, white men. Golf is a sport for life and shouldn't be reserved for the elite. Stockwood Park features a public golf course for all ages and backgrounds that has been played by tens of thousands over the past 50 years. "
Luton Borough Council says savings from the financial impact of Covid-19 will be factored in. A statement from the council said: “The council is exploring potential savings from a significant budget deficit due to a collapse in passenger numbers at Luton Airport, which is an important source of revenue for the council and revenue support for Active Luton. As a direct result of the effects of the coronavirus shutdown, the council is particularly focused on the future operations of the Stockwood Park golf center. These include the 18-hole course, the 9-hole course and the clubhouse building. "
An online petition to save the golf center was launched last week and has already attracted over 5,500 signatures. The petition organizer, Sarah Jolley, wrote: “Golf is one of the few sports that was open and can be played socially at a distance during Covid-19, except during lockdowns. The Stockwood Park Golf Center is a gem in our town, it is suitable for all ages and an affordable golf center. "