Golf club lodges complaint over barracks’ treatment

Members of Bassingbourn Golf Club make their feelings about the closure of the club known

Members of Bassingbourn Golf Club make their feelings about the closure of the club known - Credit: Archant

A GOLF club evicted from Bassingbourn Barracks when it closed earlier this year has made an official complaint to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) about the process.

Bassingbourn Golf Club says the MoD has been seen by local people to have acted in a “capricious and intransigent manner” by forcing the club and other societies based at the barracks to leave the site at the end of March.

Des Downey, committee member at the golf club, said the club was making a complaint because it felt the MoD was not willing to compromise on its plans to close the barracks.

He said: “The MoD failed to exercise good communication, negotiation, flexibility and respect for the communities where the leisure assets are located. To compound it all, taxpayers see community leisure assets to the value of perhaps £1m destroyed. “The MoD who enjoyed excellent relationships with the local community, reaching back to World War II, are seen to have acted in a capricious and intransigent manner.”

Two meetings took place between the MoD, Bassingbourn Golf Club, and other societies which used the barracks, such as the Land Yachting club and Royston Hockey Club.

But Mr Downey believes the MoD representatives who attended, Bob Hood and Mark Freer, were not willing to listen to their pleas to remain on the base.

He said: “A presentation was prepared to show how the clubs could take responsibility for administration, maintenance and access management. This included a willingness to consider contributing financially either as clubs or with assistance from community organisations. To our astonishment the MoD refused point blank to consider any options. It was also very evident that any public interest factors such as the loss of community leisure facilities had not been part of their thinking.”

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The club has written to Ben Turner, assistant private secretary to the permanent secretary at the MoD, to register the complaint.

The closure of the barracks was announced last year when the army revealed it was leaving the site. It’s long-term future remains unclear, with more news is expected in September.

Bassingbourn Snowsports Centre, another of the clubs that was based on the barracks site, is currently in negotiations about remaining at its dry ski slope, at least on a temporary basis.

An MoD spokesman said: “The sports and social clubs were informed in 2012 that, following the closure of the Bassingbourn Barracks, they would no longer be able to access the site because of the cost of providing additional security and satisfying adequate health and safety requirements.

“MoD engaged with the clubs and societies throughout the process and explained that we could not justify keeping the site open for regular public use when MoD is no longer operating the site itself. All leases have now expired.