Connect with us
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

Disastrous Garnant Golf saga not yet over for council

Published

on

Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 09.34.14CARMARTHENSHIRE’S disastrous dealings with Clays Farm Golf Centre Ltd are still dragging on, two-and-a-half years after Clays left the County Council in the lurch by walking away from a 25 year lease on Garnant Golf course. 

Clays, which had benefi t ted from £200,000 in subsidies from the County Council through its associate company, Garnant Golf Club Ltd, took away machinery and green-keeping equipment with them.

Wrexham-based Clays had seemed financial saviours initially. At least, that was the County Council’s hope. The scenic 18-hole 120-acre golf course above the Amman Valley, created in 1998 on land reclaimed from opencast coal mining, was costing the council some £150,000 a year, according to reports at the time, and so councillors decided that it was just too expensive to manage the course themselves.

Clays set up a new company, Garnant Golf Club Ltd, to run the course and in September 2011 agreed a 25 year lease with the County Council. By February 2014, though, Garnant Golf Club Ltd was insolvent, despite having received £80,000 a year from the council in both 2011-12 and 2012-13, and £40,000 in 2013-14. In addition, Garnant Golf was enjoying a rent holiday due to last until September 2017. Clays Farm Golf Centre, as guarantor for Garnant Golf, should have come to the rescue, surely?

INSOLVENCY AFTER TWO YEARS 

The council was unaware of the parlous situation at the club until January 14 , 2014 – the day before Garnant Golf Director Steve Williams wrote on the club website that the company was going into administration. Minutes of the council’s Executive Board meeting on March 17 say: “A very difficult period of uncertainty ensued for all until a liquidator was appointed and a creditors meeting was held on site on February 12. At this meeting, the liquidator decided to disclaim [terminate] the lease and hand the facility back to CCC [Carmarthenshire County Council].

“As a result of that meeting, the authority is currently pursuing Clays Golf Ltd for monies owed in relation to the operation of the facility. These figures are yet to be finalised, as they involve a full site inspection and a review of the previously agreed asset inventory, as well as a potential claim against elements of a LIF [Local Investment Fund] grant that was paid to the operator for improvements to the clubhouse and some equipment purchases. Reports of the site being stripped of all its assets are wide of the mark, as most of the equipment taken off site by the operator actually belonged to them.”

Well, up to a point, maybe – technically owned by Clays, but including items purchased with grant money provided courtesy of the council.

LIQUIDATOR LACKS INFORMATION 

Garnant Golf has not yet been wound up. Martin Armstrong, the liquidator, reported on February 24 , 2016 that he had ‘pursued the directors for further information regarding areas identified within my investigations that required explanation. Unfortunately the directors have not cooperated during this period. I have been required to engage solicitors to determine the appropriate route forward. I have also been in dialogue with creditors regarding the potential options to pursuing the directors ‘.

Mystery surrounds the fate of the Garnant Golf’s assets. The company’s accounts show that on January 31 , 2013 , these totalled £96,218, made up of £48,417 ‘premises improvements’, £9,816 plant and equipment, £2,817 computer equipment and £35,168 in machinery. Items totalling £23,754 were held on finance agreements.

These finance agreements seem to be an arrangement between Clays Farm Golf Centre Ltd and Garnant Golf, whereby Clays Farm Golf Centre Ltd owned the equipment and leased it to Garnant Golf which, according to Mr Armstrong, ‘appears to have no realisable assets of any kind‘, despite having received £200,000 from the County Council during the less than two-and-a-half years of its operational life.

Steve Williams was one of the two directors of Garnant Golf, and golf professional David Larvin was the other. Because of the delay in winding up the company, both are still listed as directors, based at the club in Dinefwr Road, Garnant.

THE GARNANT GOLF TWO 

Clays Farm Golf Centre Ltd has three directors: David Larvin and Stephen Williams – the Garnant Golf two – and Howell Williams. Mr Larvin owns almost 75% of the ordinary shares. An earlier company, Clays Golf Ltd, with the same three directors, was dissolved in 2006 with outstanding liabilities of almost £2.15 million.

The Executive Board’s reference to pursuing Clays Golf Ltd for moneys owed, and not Clays Farm Golf Centre Ltd, is therefore odd.

Now Clays Farm Golf Centre Ltd is going the same way as its predecessor, applying on April 27 of this year for voluntary liquidation, and citing debts of £261,263, 60% of which is due to HM Revenue and Customs; 38% to a firm of solicitors, Mackenzie Jones; and the remainder to Savills (UK). Liquidator Gary N Lee reported to the Registrar of Companies that Clays Farm Golf Centre was due a payment from Wrexham Borough Council, of between £300,000 and £500,000, in respect of a Compulsory Purchase Order.

No mention of any money owed to Carmarthenshire County Council, although Head of Leisure, Ian Jones, told Wales Online in March 2014 that the council was pursuing money owed by Clays, including cash for clubhouse improvements and for equipment purchases.

Another company, Mond Golf Club Ltd, of Bryn Estyn Road, Wrexham, created on April 24, 2012, and owned equally by David Larvin – who is also a director of Pacino Pizza Ltd – and by Stephen Williams, is still trading. The accounts to January 31, 2015 show shareholders’ funds of -£14,804 compared with a positive £12,602 the year before.

COUNCIL’S EXPLANATION 

The Herald asked Carmarthenshire County Council two questions:

  1. How much money does Garnant Golf Club Ltd.’s guarantor, Clays Farm Golf Centre Ltd, owe the County Council?
  2. Is Carmarthenshire County Council still pursuing Clays Farm Golf Centre Ltd for the recovery of money owed?

In reply, the council issued this short statement: “There are no moneys recoverable from Clays Farm Golf Centre Ltd in their capacity as guarantors.”

So, what has happened to the debt? The Herald asked a follow-up question – whether Clays Farm Golf Centre Ltd has settled in full since March 2014, on behalf of Garnant Golf, or alternatively whether the council has written off the money as unrecoverable.

Carmarthenshire County Council Head of Financial Services, Owen Bowen, explained that the guarantor’s obligation applied only to the lease, and not to other ‘assets’. This interpretation differs from the view in the Executive Board minutes of March 17 , 2014, when the authority was ‘pursuing Clays Golf Ltd for moneys owed ‘.

“We can confirm that the council is owed moneys by Garnant Golf Club Limited,” said Mr Bowen, adding that the ‘guarantor’s liability is limited to the lease and applies on the default of the tenant in complying with the covenants in the lease ‘.

Mr Bowen continued: “In response to the points that you have raised, the equipment purchases were funded by a grant and therefore do not form part of the lease. We are unable to comment as to why Garnant Golf Club Limited have listed improvements as assets in their accounts.

“To date, no debts have been written off as irrecoverable.”

MEMBERS SET UP NEW COMPANY 

When Garnant Golf Club Ltd folded, the golf club members were left trapped in a bunker. They sought a way out by asking the County Council to transfer the course to them as a ‘community asset’.

The new managers set up a not-for-profit company, Garnant Park Members Golf Club, which at the end of its first trading period, March 31 , 2015, had three directors – John Dylan Jones, Anthony David Falvey and David Huw Protheroe – and shareholders’ funds of £69,789.

A grant of £10,000 from the Mynydd y Betws Wind Farm Fund helped towards the cost of a £15,000 fairway mower, replacing equipment which disappeared as soon as Garnant Golf Club Ltd went into administration.

Garnant Park, boasting Welsh rugby legend Shane Williams as president, is currently promoting two special offers: three memberships for the price of two, and a ‘taster month’ for £29.99, refundable if a full membership is purchased.

A seven-day-a-week individual membership is £470 a year, couples pay £800 and a family including two junior players aged 13 to 17, £850. Children up to 12 can play for free. Visitors are welcome and can pay by the round for nine or 18 holes.

The licensed clubhouse offers Sunday carvery lunches and catering for special occasions, such as a wedding breakfast for 50 guests at £999.

After Clays’ unhappy tenure, the club is once again managed for the benefit of the community.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Community

Carmarthenshire Archives’ new building officially opened

Published

on

ON MONDAY, November 28, Cllr Rob Evans, Chair of Carmarthenshire County Council, unveiled a specially designed plaque to commemorate the official opening of the brand new Carmarthenshire Archives building.

The official opening was attended by year 6 pupils of Ysgol Y Dderwen, along with their Headteacher Mr Dylan Evans, who designed the plaque by compiling various artwork and sketches that are housed at the Archives.

Established in 1959, Carmarthenshire Archives is the local authority archive service for the County of Carmarthenshire and the new building is located at St Peter’s Street, Carmarthen. 

The service is home to our extensive collection of historic documents that date from the 13th century to the present day. The collection includes archives, maps, books, photographs, videos and sound recordings. It is the Archives’ mission to preserve and make its documents available for general study and research.

Admission to Carmarthenshire Archives is free and open to anyone who wishes to use the Council’s records. Most of its services are free, but we do charge for some extra services and help.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure, Culture and Tourism, Cllr Gareth John commented:

“Congratulations to the pupils of Ysgol Y Dderwen, they have designed an excellent and appropriate plaque that is inspired by the treasure troves of our archives. It was wonderful to welcome them to the official opening so that they can see their work take pride of place at a building that holds great significance to us in Carmarthenshire. 

“This is a brand new and modern building that is fit to keep and protect our county’s most precious historical documents. 

“But of course, these documents are meant to be viewed and studied by school children, students, academics and anybody who has an interest in Carmarthenshire’s rich history; and this excellent facility provides the perfect space for people to come and view these treasures.”

Continue Reading

Business

Llandeilo gas works to begin say Wales & West Utilities

Published

on

WALES & West Utilities will shortly begin work to upgrade gas pipes in Llandeilo.

Wales & West Utilities has liaised with Carmarthenshire County Council to plan the work and it has been agreed that work will commence after the town has celebrated the Festival of Senses.

The £123,000 investment scheme, which is essential to keep the gas flowing safely to heat and power local homes and businesses, will begin in New Road on 21 November. This section of work will be complete before Christmas and Wales & West Utilities will return to the town next year to undertake further work in the Crescent Road area. Barring any engineering difficulties, work in the town will be complete by the end of February next year.

Wales & West Utilities Adam Smith is managing this gas pipe upgrade work. He said: “Working with the Council, we have planned this work to accommodate the needs of the town.

“While most of the gas network is underground and out of sight, it plays a central role in the daily lives of people across Llandeilo. Whether it’s heating your home, making the family dinner or having a hot bath, we understand how important it is for your gas supply to be safe and reliable and there when you need it.

“We know that working in areas like this is not ideal, but it really is essential to make sure we keep the gas flowing to homes and businesses in the area, and to make sure the gas network is fit for the future. We’ll have a team of gas engineers on site throughout the project to make sure our work is completed as safely and as quickly as possible while keeping disruption to a minimum.

“This work is essential to keep the gas flowing to local homes and businesses today, and to make sure the gas network is ready to transport hydrogen and biomethane, so we can all play our part in a green future.”

Our Customer Service Team is ready to take your call if you have any questions about our work. You can contact them on freephone 0800 912 2999.

Alternatively, you can contact us on Twitter @WWUtilities or Facebook.com/WWUtilities.

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, brings energy to 7.5m people across the south west of England and Wales. If you smell gas, or suspect the presence of carbon monoxide, call us on 0800 111 999 straight away, and our engineers will be there to help any time of day or night. Before visiting, we’ll ask you to let us know if you or anyone in your household, is experiencing Coronavirus symptoms or self-isolating. We’ll still come and help you: but our teams will take some additional precautions to keep us all safe.

Continue Reading

News

Police appeal following theft of items from Home Bargains Crosshands

Published

on

OFFICERS from Dyfed Powys Police have confirmed that they are investigating the theft of items, including a Christmas Nutcracker Ornament valued at £129.99, from the Home Bargains store in Crosshands, Carmarthenshire.

The theft occurred at about 12:40pm on Tuesday, 27th September 2022.

Officers have carried out all possible lines of enquiry, and are now appealing for help from the public.

They would like to identify the people in the CCTV image, who may have information that could help the investigation.

Anyone who knows who the people are, or if you believe you are pictured, contact Dyfed-Powys Police.

This can also be done either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk or phoning 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Please quote reference DPP/2006/27/09/2022/02/C

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

Continue Reading

Trending

FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK