No public answers to council's golf club sell-off facing millions in losses

The Terrace at the Barnham Broom Hotel, Golf and Spa. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Breckland council will not answer questions about Barnham Broom in public - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

Answers to questions surrounding a Norfolk council's investment in a golf course, which is facing millions in losses, will not be heard in public.

Breckland opposition councillors questioned the council’s investment in Barnham Broom Golf and Country Club, which the authority bought in a controversial deal in 2006 for £7m, at a council meeting on Thursday.

The authority has spent more than £10m on the property in total - spending another £1.2m on taxes and a further £2m doing it up. 

The council is now understood to be trying to sell the golf club for a fraction of what it paid –  just £2m. 

At the meeting, Terry Jermy, the Labour leader on the district council, produced a conservative election leaflet from 2007.

Terry Jermy, Labour leader on Breckland Council

Terry Jermy, Labour leader on Breckland Council - Credit: Archant

The leaflet called the golf club a "real investment" which would be central to keeping council tax down and improving services.

It said: "Last year the council's income from its commercial property was £1.95m.

"It is currently forecast that this figure will grow to £2.3m this year, which includes new income from the purchase of Barnham Broom leisure complex - real investments saving you money and generating an income for better services across Breckland."

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Mr Jermy questioned if Paul Hewett, the cabinet member for property and project, still believed it was a sound investment.

However, Mr Hewett said he was not prepared to discuss financial contracts in public.

Roger Atterwill, an Independent councillor, called for an update for members, which Mr Hewett said would be provided. 

The council tried to sell the venue in 2018 to the current tenants for £6.5m.

Since then, its value has collapsed and according to council papers, it is planning to sell the “asset” in the next financial year for just under £2m.

Breckland councillor Roger Atterwill is warning communities will be up in armswhen reality sinks in.

Independent Breckland councillor Roger Atterwill - Credit: Archant

In January, it was understood that the current tenants were the only business in the running to buy it.

Council papers did not name the property, citing commercial confidentiality. However, several sources confirmed to the EDP that the £2m asset sale was Barnham Broom.

In January, Mr Hewett said: "We’re unable to share more information about ongoing business arrangements as they are commercially confidential and could have a negative impact on a third-party’s business."