Criticism for Extinction Rebellion as it targets a golf club

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 4, 2020 13:42

A golf club in Brighton has been saved despite environmental movement Extinction Rebellion carrying out a protest at it – although a second club will be restored to chalk grasslands through a ‘rewilding’ plan.

Activists met at Hollingbury Golf Club in Brighton and made a protest about the chemicals the club uses to maintain its course and called for the venue to be closed down and rewilded – which involves letting the site grow naturally to encourage wildlife.

However, the club’s captain has said the greenkeepers don’t even use chemicals and 30 people would lose their jobs if the venue was closed.

Members of Extinction Rebellion met at the top of Hollingbury Park’s course and made a human hourglass symbol before marching towards Brighton.

Stephen Garrioch, the captain at Hollingbury Golf Club, told The Argus: “They all put on these chemical suits and lay on the ground.

“That doesn’t give us a very good image, and we told them we do not use harmful chemicals any more.”

The reason for the protest was because the lease for the golf course was due to expire at the end of March and it was put out to tender.

“What Extinction Rebellion were asking for is an extension for the council to discuss this site. I don’t think that’s unreasonable in itself,” he added.

“What is unreasonable is the fact that the site would then have to close on March 31, and if it closes I believe we will lose members and the chances of it coming back as a golf course will be unlikely. You have then put 30 people out of work, including the bar staff, chefs and managers, and the head greenkeeper who lives on site will have to go.

“They are not against the golf course, but there were a few people there who clearly do not want it to be used for that. But there’s no reason why everyone cannot still enjoy it together. I’m not saying they are bad people. I hope we are coming from the same place.

“You would lose a club with such a long history and a great social aspect. We’ve still got guys who come up here even though they can’t play anymore.

“It’s part of their lives and you’re just taking that away from them.”

However, shortly after the protest Brighton and Hove City Council approved the re-letting of the site to a leisure company and it will remain a golf course.

Steve Garrioch said: “It’s fantastic news. I would personally like to thank everyone for all their hard work to get us where we are.

“We’re very happy we don’t have to close the course.

“Going forward, we’re going to form a management committee with all interested parties. We want to all make sure the right thing is being done for everyone.”

Councillors on the policy and resources committee agreed to enter into a three-year lease with an ‘established registered charity’ but the identity of the charity has not yet been revealed while negotiations take place.

The council also agreed to enter a 22-year-lease, once planning permission to ‘extend and enhance’ the existing clubhouse at the site has been approved.

At the same meeting, councillors agreed nearby Waterhall Golf Course will be restored to chalk grasslands through a rewilding plan.

Readers of The Argus seemed to support Garrioch, if the comments at the end of the article are anything to go by.

So ER want to turn an area of managed grass downland into an area of unmanaged grass downland. Just goes to show how bonkers this lot are,’ was the highest rated comment.

Bullying is not an acceptable tactic in any walk of life,’ was the second highest.

‘He sounds like a reasonable enough bloke. Prepared to talk and compromise and work with people. I hope they respond positively to his offer. But I somehow doubt it, I’m afraid,’ was the third.

 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 4, 2020 13:42
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