A few observations about the proposal to graze cattle in Whitewebbs

This is the image chosen to illustrate the scheme:

Image chosen by Enfield Council to illustrate the grazing proposal.

As you can see it has been poorly photoshopped. It may bear some resemblance to the designated area in Forty Hall it bears no relation to the site chosen in Whitewebbs.
The area in Whitewebbs has not been mown or managed for years and has been rewilding naturally for decades. The ground is heavy clay, very uneven with many large fissures in the surface. It is badly drained and from late September to April it is exceedingly muddy and waterlogged.
The photos below give an idea of the current state of the land chosen. There are open areas of grasses and scrub but there are hundreds, if not thousands of established and new oak trees as well as ash, willow, hawthorn, blackthorn and maple

The area is rich in wildlife including many species of butterfly and other insects. There is evidence of adders.

The satellite photo used by the Council gives the impression that the area is open and suitable for grazing. This is an older, out of date, image and as you can judge from the photos above gives a thoroughly misleading picture.

I should like to see the detailed assessment of this area used in coming to the grazing proposal. There is a place for conservation grazing in the right place – I would suggest that in Whitewebbs the best place would be the northern end of the old golf course. Unfortunately the Council appears to be pursuing a policy of allowing this to be covered by astroturf and plastic reinforced pitches.

Part of the area intended for astroturfing / plastic reinforced pitches

There is uncertainty over long term public access to the old golf course. Park users are rightly concerned that their access to the one open area managed by the council will be restricted by the presence of unsupervised and unfenced cattle, however “docile”.

The level of consultation over this issue is abysmal even by Enfield Council’s low standards. We have been offered a chance to meet the cattle and the possibility of an online meeting at very short notice.

flooding in the area earlier this year

Whitewebbs and the Spurs deal – financial incompetence, recklessness or what?

Let us look closely at the Spurs deal:

THL (Spurs/ENIC) will pay £500,000 upfront and then, after 5 years, start paying £75,000 a year rental for a 150 acre estate. A few years ago Whitewebbs Park was valued at about £16million pounds.

The Council is treating  the £500,000 as capital, which can be spent on improving the park infrastructure – footpaths, the bridleways, fences etc.

But it is not capital – it is like one of us saying I am going to earn £150,000 over the next five years so I am going to spend all of it now using the credit card to buy a new Mercedes. Unfortunately  I won’t have any income for the next five years so will not be able to buy petrol, insurance, servicing, food or housing.

The £500,000 is just an advance on income – a sub

Councillors will want to spend it on attractive projects that will look good in photo opportunities.

They will forget the running costs, repairs, maintenance provision for replacement – let the next administration take care of that, they will have moved on and left accountability behind them.

The promises – both are from the Spurs  prospectus but referenced by the Council

promise 1

The first seems to suggest that all the work will be done by Spurs for the whole park – but read on

promise 2


The second paragraph suggests that the work on the council land will be paid for from the £500,000 paid by Spurs to the council “the Club’s financial consideration for its lease on the site.”

Upgrades and investment to the statutory footpaths and bridleways….. damaged timber fencing … signs… . This work is expensive.

The bridleways are in a poor state, most of the fencing has fallen down or is about to fall down. The surface is poor and badly drained. Only the North  South sections of the bridleways are “statutory”.

There are no statutory footpaths in the Spurs lease area, just a few short lengths of permissive paths.

Over half the 4kms of bridleway and almost all the permissive footpaths are in the area being retained by the Council. The footpaths are in a very poor state, especially in winter. Using a 2019  Scottish Government guide to the cost of paths and fences I came up with a figure of about £350,000 to bring the bridleways, fencing and some footpaths up to a reasonable standard. To this has to be added VAT where applicable, allowance for inflation, higher London costs, and Council central admin costs (These can be very high – see dispute over golf course costings). These would bring the total costs to well over £500,000

And, of course, there would be no income for general maintenance, repairs, litter  removal, woodland maintenance and environmental management for the first  five years.

The £75,000 from year 6 onwards might possibly cover general running costs but with no provision for major maintenance (wooden fences last about 10-15 years, paths need resurfacing. Look at the dual use path in Hilly Fields for evidence of this.)

Add this  into the equation

“The leader of the Council, Cllr Nesil Caliskan said    (note “these proposals” = the bid from Spurs)

Quoted in the Marketing update

To turn an average £80,000 annual  income into £100,000 annual expenditure on sport and improve and maintain the park infrastructure would be a miraculous achievement on a par with the loaves and fishes (or just appalling maths)

This whole “Marketing of Whitewebbs Park” is a display of incompetence on a grand scale by the officers and councillors. As was pointed out at the time  the whole  concept and process was fundamentally flawed. The consultation with the Community was a disgrace to democracy and the financial returns to the people of Enfield are pitiful. Just as we realise the full value of our open spaces after COVID  the Council effectively privatises one of our prize natural assets at a give away price.

Did anyone at the Civic Centre trouble to work out what capital and income was needed to revitalise the park’s infrastructure and maintain this to a high level so that all could use and enjoy it?

But a multi billion dollar offshore company will do exceedingly well out of the deal and will end up with its very own country estate in Enfield at minimal cost. Spurs will, no doubt, be delighted by the deal.

If this could not be got right what hope is there for the rest of council finances?

The Best arrangement for Enfield residents

The Council has closed the Golf Course and can no longer  make the argument that it is losing money. (The prime reason for marketing Whitewebbs)

The best approach for Enfield would be to  retain the park as it is but upgrade the café and community facilities at Beggars Hollow.  A mix of long lease commercial café with non profit community facilities would fit the bill. The old golf course buildings and yard could be leased out to a suitable business. This would generate  more income than is being offered by Spurs / ENIC

If  Spurs has to be accommodated this would be a better and fairer deal for Enfield

Lease of land for THL—THL has already built a women’s facility on their existing site which has yet 23/4/22  to receive a planning approval decision.
Lease up to 4 hectares of land from the NE corner of Whitewebbs for  up to 4 pitches.  No buildings on Whitewebbs land, with access via existing Spurs ground.

Allow diversion of Bridleway  along southern and western boundaries of  this area.  Boundary to be marked by secure fencing screened by trees and  suitable vegetation not  ugly great walls of earth.

Premium  £2,000,000 with annual payments of £200,000 inflation adjusted starting year 1 through to year 25.
A bond to cover restoration after 25 years.

 Finance for the park

1. Premium to be spent on capital construction of new community facilities and refurbishment of  existing  facilities—footpaths, bridleway improvement, demarcated cycle way through the park,  play areas, lake refurbishment, toilet blocks., environmental study facilities for schools / adults with community rooms for hire.

2. Annual rental from THL to  be allocated to maintenance of the above and any normal  park management e.g grass cutting, woodland maintenance

3. Income from  other park based sources e.g. café, rental of the old golf course buildings and yard and rental from Whitewebbs House to be similarly allocated to  park improvement and maintenance.

4. Grants and funding to be sought for specific new projects and activities

Sean Wilkinson

An open letter to Enfield Councillors regarding the Spurs bid

An open letter to all councillors before the Scrutiny Committee meeting  17th November 2021

A copy of this letter was sent to all Enfield Councillors

The Scrutiny Committee is making a decision on Whitewebbs Park on Thursday Evening.

This decision is important and will affect the reputation of the Borough, The Council, the advising Officers and the Councillors  for decades to come.

The question for you is simple – do we

  1. Sell off (“lease”) 150 acres of unique parkland to a multi billion dollar offshore based company (ENIC) for a derisory amount of money  OR
  2. Look at other feasible ways of getting more income from the park, retaining it as open space for current and future generations and living up to our commitments to the environment, nature and climate action?

The Facts: (as they have been made public)

  1. The bid will provide LBE with a total income of £2 million over 25 years. £500,000 as an initial payment with nothing more to pay for 5 years.  Thereafter there will be an annual payment of £75,000 for 20 years.
  2. For this  Spurs / ENIC will get control of 150 acres of parkland which includes the 100 acre golf course, the Lake area and gardens, part of the woodland, all the main entrances and the car parks.
  3. What commitments has Spurs/ENIC made? Very little  that does not directly benefit  Spurs/ENIC or will be self financing.
    1. Restore the bridleway along the North Side of their football area – this will be part of their  security/ boundary construction programme anyway.
    1. Wildlife corridor – next to the northern boundary and includes wetland / woodland that can’t be used for anything else.
    1. Restore the southern part of the golf course to 19th Century parkland and plant some trees. It is already 19th Century parkland with a very large  number and variety of trees.
  • Cut grass paths through the grassland – once or twice a year, a day’s work with a grass cutter.
    • Plant some wildflowers around the plastic pitches.
    • Improving footpaths on the leased area – well this depends on which map you go by and the exact boundaries. (Two significantly different maps are in the committee papers)
    • “Subject to planning permission” improved café facilities and toilets. Self financing with a healthy margin of profit if managed properly.

Biodiversity, biodiversity and Climate action

  1. The designers of the course in the 1930s did a very good job of using the existing landscape and planted many trees and shrubs to enhance the natural look. The course is rich in tree species, bats, birdlife, insects, wildflowers and a wide variety of grasses. In fact, it looks like 19th Century parkland. The maintenance team retained the natural features and vegetation.
  2. The land designated for football pitches is not flat or level. There is a 10 metre drop between the highest and lowest parts. Huge quantities of earth will have to be bulldozed – maybe 100,000 cu metres or more. In addition  thousands of cu metres of sand, gravel, soil and other construction material  will have to be brought in by truck.
  3. A quarter of the pitches will be Astroturf, The rest will be  hybrid grass with plastic reinforcement. These pitches will contribute nothing to biodiversity. Construction and plastic reinforcement will do nothing for climate improvement and will have an adverse effect on  carbon reduction.
  4. The destruction of the 40 acres+ of mixed grassland and some established trees will deprive wildlife of feeding areas affecting birdlife, bats, birds of prey, insects and small mammals.

  • Contrary to opinions expressed within the council offices this is not an engineered landscape.

    This is an engineered landscape and this is what will be built.
  • It is possible and worrying that the people making the recommendations for Whitewebbs Park have little or no practical knowledge of it. This may be a product of staff shortage, staff turnover, pressure of time but this is no excuse for destruction of a beautiful landscape.
  • Over 80 species of bird were recorded in 2020 as were 8 species of bat. We have reports and evidence of foxes, adders, freshwater molluscs, stag beetles, muntjac and, very rarely, roe deer, rabbits, dragon flies, damsel flies, a wide variety of butterflies, many wildflowers, buzzards, hawks  …………. An enormous list.

This park was bought for the people of Enfield 90 years ago so that they could enjoy recreation in a large open space. There was provision for community sport – a cricket pitch, tennis courts and a public golf course. The conditions were that when these were no longer needed the land would be returned to public open space for all to use. I challenge anyone who does not know the park  to find the cricket pitch – it has rewilded.
When it was decided to close the golf course Cllr Yusuf asked the Leader if the land would be open to all to walk on and enjoy. The Leader assured him that it would be and put no time limit on this nor any conditions. (Scrutiny Committee meeting to consider the decision to close the Golf Course) This statement was in keeping with the provisions of the original 999 year lease.

The initial reason given for the marketing of the golf course (and the ancient woodland) was that it was losing money. The figures are disputed but we will let that pass. The course offered  low cost sport and recreation to the public – old, young, male, female, trans with no restriction. Running costs were more or less covered, especially during the pandemic. The new facility will be restricted to a very narrow group of players.

When the decision was made to close the course in March 2021 the reason given for the marketing exercise was dead. There was no longer any valid reason for continuing, There was no longer a loss of money. Whitewebbs was no more a burden on the citizens of Enfield than any other park. In fact, with the income from the café and the social golf club not to mention the Carvery it was helping to pay for itself.

 The Human Value of Whitewebbs

Whitewebbs is part of the sweep of open spaces and gardens from the A10 through to Cockfosters and beyond – Capel Manor, playing fields, Myddelton House, Forty Hall, Hilly Fields and Trent Park. Local small parks provide day to day rest and enjoyment  but the Green Belt provides, for all residents, space and the freedom to walk longer distances and experience space and nature at its best and in different forms. This is why Whitewebbs Park was bought for the people 90 years ago, for their physical and mental well-being.

Why voting to progress the bid is a bad idea:

  1. By any objective standard this is a lousy deal for Enfield. The money is derisory and  will not cover the cost of desired outcomes for the park. It will barely be enough to cover basic maintenance let alone the more ambitious spending ideas.
  2. Spurs, a wholly owned subsidiary of an offshore, tax haven based, multi billion dollar corporation, can afford to buy land for their projects anywhere. It is not a struggling local amateur club in need of support. Whitewebbs just happens to be a convenience for them.
  3. The commitments we have seen in the council and THFC documents are so weak that they cannot be taken seriously. The Council has, by its own admission,  a feeble  record of lease enforcement.
  4. It is clear that THFC/ENIC has ambitious plans for the land. However, there are no financial or contractual incentives for Spurs/ENIC to maintain or enhance park use. Quite the opposite in fact. It will probably buy up the long lease on Whitewebbs House, enclose much of the area around it for privacy and security and turn it into a hotel/ hospitality facility for players and  visitors. The lease will be renegotiated  and In 10 years time Whitewebbs Park will be a private estate and lawyers will negotiate a long lease or even a freehold sale.

If you vote for this bid, your legacy will a lost park, a damaged landscape and betrayed community.

There is a good alternative:

  1. Lease  the café and old golf club building for 25 years to an experienced and enterprising business type. Good cafes and function /community rooms can be lucrative if handled properly. I have seen small park cafes in London parks going for £35,000 a year.
  2. Lease out the old golf course buildings, yard, car parking and storage to business users.

This will generate more income than the Spurs offer and retain the park for the community.

Sean Wilkinson

Friends of Whitewebbs Park

The scrutiny committee voted along party lines to support the bid

Letter to Cllr Caliskan with questions about the Tottenham bid 31st October 2021

Dear Councillor Caliskan

The recent decision paper regarding the proposal to proceed with the bid from THL for the lease of Whitewebbs Park raises many questions that need answering.

Many issues have been raised before – lack of information, failed promises, misleading statements from council officers and failure to consult in a proper manner with the community. Answers have been unsatisfactory to say the least  and the issues are still open.

1.       The paper continues to confuse the park and the golf course. Right from the point when Enfield Urban District Council took on the 999 year lease it was clear that the park consisted of the ancient woodland, the open space, the buildings and facilities. The golf course was not a separate entity and should it or any occupied part of the park (cricket pitch, tennis courts and the like) be discontinued the land would be restored to open space for the enjoyment of the public for recreation. Officers have attempted to imply that the park is part of the golf course which it is not.

2.       The reason given for the marketing of Whitewebbs Park  – erroneously referred to as Golf course and adjacent land, was that the course was running at a loss. The moment that you closed the course at the end of March 2021  this reason lost all validity. From that point the park continued to generate rent from the social golf club building and the café, not to mention whatever rental is paid by the Toby Carvery. All costs associated with the golf course had gone and all that were left were those common to all parks in the borough.

3.       The income from the THL bid. The total amount over a 25 year period  is £2million. There is something seriously wrong with a marketing exercise that produces such a derisory figure – roughly equivalent to the allowances paid to 5 or 6 councillors a year. You have chosen not to share real details of the bids so it is difficult to make an assessment. The financial contribution of the preferred bidder is so small that it does not warrant the  score given to it. It may well be that work that would have been put into the maintenance of the park and the woodland by, for example, bidder A would be equivalent to or greater than the cash value of the THL bid.

4.       You will be aware, or should be, that the café in Beggars Hollow has been very busy for the last two years even with its limited facilities and size. The rent is, I believe, about £10,000 a year. Small cafes in other London parks attract rents of £30,000 and more. The social club building, while a little tired has potential for functions and other activities. With 25 year leases entrepreneurs would be prepared to invest in these facilities and pay rents  that would cover over half what you will receive from THL. Then there are the old golf course buildings with their commercial space, facilities , large storage  capacity, yard and car parking. No doubt your estates department has assessed the potential for development and rental of these.  I believe that the income from  Beggars Hollow facilities and the golf office facilities would far exceed the anticipated rental from THL.

5.       Net, THL would appear to be getting the site for practically nothing.  The site is very valuable to THL – its size, its proximity to existing facilities thereby saving on staff, plant and machinery, travel, common facilities and administration make it so. For reasons that are not apparent  you are giving it to them, a wholly owned subsidiary of a multi billion dollar offshore company, for nothing (net).

6.       The one concession I can see is that you have confirmed public access to the area south of the planned pitches.

7.       On the other hand, it is not clear that there will be public access to the area around the Lake.

Specific questions

1.       Does THL have any track record of running a public park with free access?

2.       Other than occasionally cutting grass paths through the meadow area and planting wildflowers around the pitches what specific obligations does THL have to maintain and enhance the park?

3.       Please supply a map of the footpaths that will be maintained and open to the public in the area leased by THL.

4.       In the brochure issued by THL there are pictures of high quality footpaths, is this the standard to be enforced by the lease?

5.       In what way will the golf course be modified to look like 19th Century parkland? At present the whole golf course has the appearance of 19th Century parkland. Please supply a schedule of work that is to be done.

6.       What protection will be afforded to the old course of the New River which loops through the golf course and is part of the industrial heritage of Enfield? There is no mention of this in the documents.

7.       Will THL have responsibility for the maintenance of Cuffley Brook (overgrown with Himalayan Balsam every summer) and for the flooding that affects both the golf course and the area identified as 3 on the map?

8.       Will THL be responsible for the provision of improved café, WC facilities and a visitor centre  in Beggars Hollow car park?  The visitors centre is mentioned in council documents but not by THL.

9.       Will car parking continue to be free?

10.   Reference is made to  improvements to the bridleway (I exclude the part along the northern border of the pitch area as this will be part of THL boundary construction work).  What work will be done in the council areas and the leased areas e.g fencing  repair, surface repair and at what cost?
There is reference to an additional 3Kms of bridleway. There is already  4Kms which the Council has failed to maintain.  Where will this additional 3kms be located, how much will it cost and  what financial provision will be made for maintenance over the length of the lease? 
Usage of the bridleway by horses appears to be very light. How many rides take place each week? 
It is not entirely clear from the maps which parts of the bridleway are in the leased area. As the north south stretches are statutory bridleways who will have responsibility for maintenance?

11.   There is reference to cycle track creation. Where will this be? What will be the cost ? What will be done to ensure safety and to avoid conflicting patterns of use between horse riders, cyclists and walkers? This is already an area of concern within the park.

12.   Will existing park byelaws apply to the whole park or just to the  council retained areas?

13.   What is the annual estimated cost of maintaining the Council retained areas of the park?

14.   Why has the Council been through such a long marketing process that has resulted in no real financial benefit? Had the process resulted in a £100 million cash income for the borough it might just be possible to justify the process to some. As it is the only real  beneficiaries are the ENIC corporation.
Where does the responsibility for this debacle lie? Bad advice from your agents, incompetence from council officers, poor political decisions………..?

Rewilding – this is causing some confusion.
The document refers to tree planting along Cuffley Brook and to planting native species in the open areas in the council retained  open areas to the north and south of Cuffley Brook. Anyone who has visited these areas will be aware that  both  have hundreds of young trees growing there – oaks, sycamore, alder, willows, maples, hawthorn, blackthorn, ash and many more. Cuffley brook is lined by very large mature trees as well as a range of smaller species and shrubs. There are many different species of grasses and wild flowers which attract butterflies  and insects. Birdlife is abundant and there are reports of adders and toads as well as deer and other mammals. Through a sensible policy of benign neglect the areas have rewilded in a natural and attractive way. Footpath maintenance and drainage are required and have been for some time.

1.       What ecological analysis of these areas has taken place and what “rewilding” is seen as necessary?

2.       Please supply a schedule of work and associated costs.

The Golf Course – the golf course was laid out in the 1930s by a skilled and experienced team that followed the existing landscape. As can be seen from pre 1930s OS maps and the current editions of Google Earth there has been extensive planting of trees which have complemented the  established trees on the course. Since the cessation of grass cutting  this year it is obvious that there are a great many species of grass and wildflower growing on the course. The view that the course is a monoculture of rye grass does not bear closer examination. The golf course is home to many birds and its mix of trees and open areas makes it a healthy hunting ground for  the many bats  nesting there and for the birds of prey.

There is already evidence of native trees establishing themselves this year, through the agency of jays, crows and squirrels.

3.       What “rewilding” features are being planned for the golf course that are not happening naturally?

Financial matters

The Leader of the Council is quoted on the council web site as saying “ If these proposals are approved we will use the rental income to reinvest an extra £100,000 a year into grassroots sport for young people across the borough.”

This statement refers specifically to the rental income as the source of  the £100,000 a year investment. As most of the (averaged out) £80,000 a year rental  will cover little more than the running and maintenance costs of the park this statement makes no sense at all.

1.       Would you please explain how the planned work for the council retained area of Whitewebbs – footpaths, bridleways, general maintenance, rubbish clearance, rewilding plus the £100,000 a year for grassroots sport are covered by an income of £80,000 a year?

Biodiversity and climate action

I estimate that about 100,000 cu metres of earth will have to be moved to create level pitches in area 4. Two of the pitches will be Astroturf. The remaining ones are described as grass but I suspect that they will be of the hybrid variety with plastic reinforcement. The grass will be carefully selected  and be of one type.

1.        How will the construction work and the artificial and hybrid pitches contribute to biodiversity and the climate emergency?

2.       This facility has no access to public transport. Has an analysis been made of traffic generation?

3.       How will those without driving licences get to the facility?

Employment and Training

1.       Capel Manor College runs sports turf courses – will the Turf Academy complement or compete with these?

2.       How many new full time jobs will be generated by this project?

3.       How will community groups gain access to the facilities without the presence of public transport?

 Yours sincerely,

Sean Wilkinson  (Chair of the Friends of Whitewebbs Park)

Some additional points and comments with pictures

July 2021 Letters sent to Leader of the Council regarding the THFC bid.

Emails sent in response to the Councils call for comments on the THFC bid

to Cllr Caliskan    Mark Bradbury  and copied to Cllrs Thorp, Lemonides and Yusuf

Dear Cllr Caliskan

The Tottenham bid for Whitewebbs Park

I have read the documents issued by Enfield Council (The marketing updates and press release among many others) and the document issued by THFC / ENIC, several times over and very carefully.

There are a lot of questions unanswered by the Council and  THFC/ENIC

1.       Why does Tottenham want so much of Whitewebbs Park?

2.       How does changing 40 acres of grassland into semi industrial plastic reinforced hybrid pitches contribute to the environmental diversity and a reduction in the climate emergency?

3.       How does the creation of a elite women’s and girls’ professional soccer facility contribute to wider  public access?

4.       A huge amount of earth  will have to be  bulldozed to create flat playing areas.  How much will be moved? Looking at the contours it could be 100,000 cubic metres or more.

5.       How much sand and gravel will be imported to the site  for pitch construction – 30,000 cu metres?

6.       How much plastic will be stitched into the earth to reinforce the pitches? SISgrass mentions 2600 20cm stitches per square metre for some of their pitches. That is an awful lot of plastic.  Some talk of it as only be 3, 5 or7 per cent of the pitch but 3 percent of 40 acres is a huge amount. See  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-tkBkJ89Uw for an impression of what is involved.

7.       Will THFC /ENIC be allowed to build the  huge earth barriers and fences in Whitewebbs that characterise the existing training ground?

8.       Which areas of Whitewebbs Park as it is currently constituted, Woodland and golf course, will the public be able to access on a daily basis once a lease has been signed ?

9.       The original 999 year lease specified public access for the whole park. Has this been changed? If so, when and who by?

We have to work from the information available.  Enfield had promised to show the bids to the Stakeholders but didn’t.  The THFC/ENIC document is little more than a PR piece with virtually no real information. As there is only one bid up for approval I cannot see that there is an issue of commercial confidentiality. The only possible reason is that one party or the other is ashamed of the content.

Some other points of concern

1. THFC/ENIC need about 40 acres for pitches and facilities, they are bidding for 140 acres (Everything except the woodland).

2. Nowhere is there an explicit guarantee of public access to the old golf course. (There are no rights of way). No mention of parking.

3. Subject to planning we might get a cafe and toilets.

4. All the main entrances to the park  will be controlled by THFC/ENIC.

5. 19th Century Parkland is not the same as a public park. It is a private  landscaped area for the benefit of the owners.

6. Looking at the map for the North End of the park. The bid includes all the land and gardens around Whitewebbs House (Toby Carvery) including the Lake and the North Lodge entrance.

7. When looked at  closely the map in the THFC/ENIC brochure and the lack of guarantees about access make it clear that the bid is for a private country estate with clearly marked  and controllable borders.

8. To my mind, on the evidence available,  the plan is to take over the carvery, with its long lease, turn it into a hotel / hospitality facility for visiting teams and run the whole park as the THFC/ENIC country estate. This would complement any plans for American Football facilities in the area as indicated on the Enfield plan proposals

9. From the THFC/ENIC perspective this would be a good business plan. They would get a large amount of land very cheaply that would give them room for expansion and a high degree of privacy. The people of Enfield will lose access to open space and beautiful recreational land.

10. Nearly 100 years ago the Council bought the estate for the people of Enfield. It looks as if our present council wants to sell off this land to a multi billion dollar corporation based in the Bahamas tax haven. THFC is  owned by ENIC. The distinction between leasing and buying is an  irrelevant smokescreen in this instance.

I have received copies of the many letters  sent to you and others in the authority which make convincing arguments against proceeding with this bid. An image of more signatures to the letter sent to you last is attached.

The whole process from beginning to end has been seriously flawed, the people of Enfield have been fed gross misrepresentations of the facts. Promises have not been kept and full information has not been made available.

I urge you to think again about this whole venture. Its implementation goes against so many of your publicly stated policies and will deprive generations to come of the opportunity to enjoy space, clean air and nature.

The stakeholders and community groups would be very happy to discuss ways that Whitewebbs can be managed and developed for the benefit of all.

Yours sincerely

Sean Wilkinson

Chair of the Friends of Whitewebbs Park

 A copy of the letter sent to Cllr Caliskan, signed by approx. 200 park users and Friends of Whitewebbs

The Friends and Users of Whitewebbs Park

24th July 2021

Dear Councillor Caliskan

We understand that you will be making a decision about proceeding with the bid for Whitewebbs Park shortly.

Under your leadership the Council has done everything possible to avoid full and proper consultation with the people of Enfield about whole of the marketing and bidding process.

Well informed and knowledgeable stakeholder groups have not been consulted despite promises from  yourself and senior officers that this would happen.

Grossly misleading statements have been made and despite formal protests these have not been corrected.

Following the early protests about your proposals and the period of lockdown thousands of Enfield citizens from all over the borough have discovered and explored this park, enjoying access to space, beauty, nature and peace in this unique setting.

The whole park was acquired by an enlightened council 90 years ago for the people of Enfield. Times change as do the leisure needs of people. What does not change is the need  for some open space where we can recharge our minds and bodies.

It is abundantly clear that the bid from THFC /ENIC has nothing to contribute to the general health and well being of the people, the biodiversity of landscape and natural life of the area. It will benefit a multi billion pound company  registered in the Bahamas and provide for the needs of a narrow select group. All the evidence points to THFC/ENIC wanting to create a large private  country-house estate and semi industrialised training ground. This is a reversion to the enclosure movement of old, where the rich and powerful  deprived the common people of their few rights and privileges.

We urge you to consider what you are doing. We are all totally opposed to this bid and urge you to reject it.

Consult properly with the stakeholders, a group that contains a wide range of experience and expertise. With them create a park for the community that will be a lasting legacy of your administration for the mental, physical, social and natural health of Enfield. There are sensible business models that will provide financial support for the running of the park and community stakeholders would welcome the opportunity to explore these with you.

As the financial pressure of a “loss making” golf course has been removed there is no requirement to pursue this bid. There is time to think, consult with the community and rethink.

Yours sincerely

Response sent to Mark Bradbury following receipt of his email concerning the THFC bid

to Mark Bradbury

Dear Mark

Thank you for your email. The simplest thing would be for you to show stakeholders, including the Friends of Whitewebbs, a copy of the bid. 

27th Feb 2021 from Mark Bradbury

As you are aware 6 bids were received of which 1 was subsequently withdrawn. The process has therefore effectively shortlisted the proposals to 5 for us, we do not consider there is a need to shortlist further. As stated above the project has been on hold since March 2020 and we will engage with members and stakeholders sharing details of all 5 of the bids before selecting a preferred partner.

I cannot accept that the very limited information in the Council statements and the carefully worded bit of PR from THFC/ENIC amounts to “details”.

Our judgements and comments are, therefore, based on the very limited information you and THFC/ENIC supply.

The document from THFC/ENIC  is carefully crafted to combine certain specific information with vagueness.

Location

The map in this section shows that the bid is for the entire golf course and some additional areas. All the land East of a line from the North Lodge entrance right down to where Beggars Hollow  connects with Clay Hill is included.

The whole width of the roadway/path from the North Lodge Gate to the back of Whitewebbs House is included. The pathway from this road to Beggars Hollow car park is not included and remains the responsibility of Enfield Council.

THFC/ENIC will control all the entrances to the golf course and the parkland including the Lake and the more formal garden areas surrounding it. It will also control all car parks. The only entrances to the woodlands under council control will be small gateways on Whitewebbs Lane and Flash Lane.

Access

There is no commitment   to allowing public access to any part of the leased area save the cafe and the toilets. The document refers to the restoration of  19th Century parkland but this is not to be confused with  municipal or public parks. Lords of the Manor own parkland associated with country houses as do many private companies and landowners. 19th Century parkland is private with handsome trees, hunting and grazing cattle,  not accessible to the public. I make an exception for the National Trust but that is not what we are talking about.

There are, as you well know, no statutory rights of way within the golf course though many of us have wandered over and around the course for many years during quiet periods.The roadway through the course may be a right of way but that is not clear.

The THFC/ENIC  commitment to investing in statutory footpaths is, therefore, meaningless. The Public access map does show an intention to upgrade the bridleway to the north of the leased area but I suspect this is more to do with security than public access. The map is incomplete as regards footpaths in the woodland area.

The Council’s marketing criteria says:

“If a lease was agreed which included the woodland, this would only have been considered if the use was appropriate, enhanced public access, and ensured the maintenance of the woodland and public rights of way and bridleways.”

The proposed lease does not include the woodland. There is, therefore, no requirement for THFC/ENIC to enhance footpaths in the woodland  and they make no specific promise to do so.

Facilities

There is the promise to, subject to planning, “redevelop the Southern Clubhouse and cafe to provide significantly improved food, beverage and toilet facilities.” There is no mention of additional facilities – rest areas, seating, picnic spots, play areas, community function rooms, school facilities. Just cafe and toilets and a few signs. 

Other points raised by park users.

The bid information from THFC/ENIC indicates that it plans to take over the whole of the leased area for its own purposes. No doubt the Toby Carvery with its long outstanding lease will be incorporated as a hotel or facility for visiting teams and secure fencing, security guards and earth barriers will exclude all but the select few from the leased area.

These statements appear in the marketing material:

The council’s aim of leasing Whitewebbs Park Golf Course is for the park to be rejuvenated and to be used in a way that benefits the wider local community.

 A more inclusive range of activities – the acceptable proposed use must be outdoor leisure or sport led. Proposals with no element of outdoor leisure use will not be considered.

Please explain how an elite training centre for girls and women’s football represents a more inclusive range of activities.

The much vaunted sports turf academy looks like a possible rebranding of what is currently offered at Capel Manor College.

How many fte permanent jobs will be created?

How will the creation of 40 acres of plastic reinforced football pitches and the associated earth movement (100,000 + cubic metres) benefit biodiversity and the climate emergency?

What is the £200,000 a year saved by closing the golf course being used for?

What is a Habitat Bank and how will this benefit Whitewebbs Woods?

For want of any further information this bid looks like THFC/ENIC getting everything it wants. The people of Enfield lose 140 acres of open space, bought for them nearly 100 years ago which they have discovered and enjoyed. In return they get the possibility (subject to planning) of a better cafe, toilets and some signposts. Whoever did this deal needs to reveal all the details or think again.

As you can see, there are many unanswered questions arising from this bid. Without answers to these and many other questions it would be irresponsible to accept this bid and, I believe, a dereliction of duty to the people of Enfield.The Council is the custodian of this land not  an agent for multi billion dollar tax haven corporations.

If you can supply full and detailed answers to the questions and points raised I will pass them on to the Friends of Whitewebbs and the wider Whitewebbs community.

Best wishes

Sean

From Mark Bradbury

On Mon, 12 Jul 2021 at 09:51, Mark Bradbury <Mark.Bradbury@enfield.gov.uk> wrote:

Sean,

As set out in my email the Council is only in a position to decide either to proceed with the Tottenham Hotspur proposal or not to.

Other bidders have therefore been informed that the Council will not be pursuing their interest. We do not therefore intend to share their bids on the grounds of commercial confidentiality.

The information on the Tottenham Hotspur website and the Councils website represents a summary of the Tottenham Hotspur Proposal. What further details do you require at this stage. Much of the design detail will follow through public consultation and discussion with the planning department through the planning process. As advised the Council will not enter into a lease unless and until planning consent is granted.

Thank you

Mark

Mark Bradbury MRICS, FRSA, FIoEE (he/him)

Director of Property and Economy

Enfield Council

Silver Street

Enfield

EN1 3XY

Correspondence with Feryal Clark M.P. July 2021

Response – scroll down for Feryal Clark letter

Dear Feryal Clark
Thank you for your email. I have attached a letter with a detailed response. You are, I know, very busy so I will attempt to summarise the main points below.
The Friends of Whitewebbs Park have read the Council documents and the brochure put out by THFC which is  wholly owned by ENIC, a multi billion pound company registered in the tax haven of the Bahamas.
1. The Council’s marketing update contains the barest minimal information about the competing bids.
2. Information about the THFC/ENIC bid has been provided in a carefully worded brochure which is little more than a PR release.
3. I requested a copy of the bids from Mark Bradbury who appears to have ignored the request. You will recall that stakeholders were promised sight of the bids.
4. The Leader of the Council and her  senior officers have clearly ignored your pleas for proper community/ stakeholder consultation. 
Public Access
1. THFC/ENIC is proposing to lease the whole of Whitewebbs Park including the main points of entry and the carparks. Only the woodland and a rapidly rewilding meadow will remain with the Council.
2. THFC/ENIC will effectively control access to the park and the woodland.
3. It is far from clear as to why THFC/ENIC require this large holding. Public parks are not their area of expertise or experience.
4. While THFC/ENIC  say that they will upgrade statutory paths and bridleways there are no statutory footpaths in their proposed leaseholding. They do indicate a plan to improve the bridleway along the northern edge of their holding but this, I believe, is more to do with their site security than enhancing access.
5. There is no requirement to enhance footpaths in the woodland and no indication that they plan to do so.
6. There is no clear or specific indication that public access will be allowed to the golf course. The wording is very carefully chosen.
Facilities
1. The Council document refers to a “new cafe, toilets and other facilities” THFC/ENIC refer only to  cafe and toilets. There is no mention of community facilities, merely “opportunities for” with no suggestion of support.
Investment in Biodiversity and restoring the landscape
1. THFC/ENIC are going to cover  about 40 acres of land with plastic reinforced turf and facilities. They will shift  vast quantities of earth to level the ground – maybe 100,000 cubic metres or more but they will plant a few flowerbeds.
2. They talk of restoring the rest  of the course to 19th Century parkland. Apart from the rapidly disappearing bunkers and greens, that is what it is. “Parkland” is not the same as  public parks.  Parkland was the preserve of private landowners. Most of this parkland in the 19th Century was used for grazing. I note that one of the bids wanted to use the land for cattle grazing. 
3. The golf course is improved grassland – turning it into wild flower meadows is a major task which will take 5 years or more and involve a lot of work and expense. It is not just a matter of  failing to cut the grass.
4. This section has no definitions and many let out clauses.
5. There is reference to “Habitat Banks”. These sound good and worthy but my research suggests that they are a commercial device by which Councils and Developers offset environmental  loss in one area with planting elsewhere in the country.
Open space and privacy
1. There is no guarantee that  people will have access to the golf course.
2. THFC/ENIC is very protective of its privacy – see the security precautions at the current training ground. Security guards, high fences and 3 metre high earth barriers. We can expect similar measures in Whitewebbs. 
3. There is a legitimate question to ask about why THFC/ENIC wants control over the whole park (except the woodlands). Security, privacy, future expansion?
The Community
1. The private estate “Parkland” was bought for the people of Enfield  nearly 100 years ago. At the time golf was very popular. The park is now available for other recreational use which will benefit our mental and physical health. The Council are custodians of the park not wheeler dealer property tycoons..
2. There is no provision for “rejuvenation” of the park.
3. “A more inclusive range of activities”. We have lost 85,000 hours of physical activity enjoyed by men and women of all ages and incomes (golf). This is being replaced by a facility for a very narrow section of the population serving the commercial interests of a multi billion dollar corporation based in a tax haven. The THFC/ENIC scheme is not born of altruism, it is a straight commercial investment.
4. The Community might get a slightly better cafe, maybe some signposts and loss of access to land they own. (We did walk the golf course for many years – round the edges and during quieter periods).
Employment and Training
1. There might be a  few jobs but not many. Currently  Tottenham is advertising on the Grounds Management Association website  for people with level 2 turf management qualifications for casual / as required jobs.
2. Training and a Turf Academy – Capel Manor runs sports turf management schemes for apprentices. Tottenham is associated with this already.

In summary this is a scheme tailor made for the commercial requirements and convenience of a multi billion dollar corporation. Expect the initial scheme to be expanded – training grounds for American football, hotel facilities, housing for staff, acres of tarmac for cars.
The community will lose a beautiful park, the Council by its own figures has saved £200,000 a year by closing the golf course. There are no guarantees of access, no real provision for enhanced facilities and the climate emergency will be met by building 40 acres of plastic reinforced monocultural football pitches. (Look up hybrid pitches on YouTube) “There can be around 20 million of individual polyethylene fibres in a standard football pitch.”  Daily Telegraph report.
I cannot agree with your  interpretation of the Council and THFC/ENIC documents and urge that you look at them again before it is too late. Were the Council proud of what they are doing I am sure that they would have engaged in full consultation. Despite your urgings , this they have failed to do.
The 25 year lease is irrelevant – with the money that THFC/ENIC is spending this land will be lost forever.
Yours sincerely
Sean Wilkinson
Friends of Whitewebbs Park
Attached documents

1. Full letter

Feryal Clark’s letter. This, in various forms, has been sent to others
On Mon, 5 Jul 2021 at 12:37, Feryal Clark MP <feryal.clark.mp@parliament.uk> wrote:

Dear Sean Wilkinson

I hope this finds you well.

I am writing to you on the back of Enfield Council’s press release on the future of Whitewebbs: https://new.enfield.gov.uk/news-and-events/enfield-council-considering-proposals-for-investme/ which I hope you have had the opportunity to read.

Enfield Council has announced that it is considering the proposals submitted by Tottenham Hotspur Football Club (THFC) as the highest scoring bidder.

As you are aware, I called on Enfield Council to halt any decision on the future of Whitewebbs until the local stakeholders have had an opportunity to review the bidders, and I am pleased to see that my suggestion has been followed.

Whilst Enfield Council has shared details of all the bids and specifically that which has been scored highest, I have been assured that no decision will be made on the future of Whitewebbs before mid-July. This will give the public time to ask questions and share their views on the proposals.

Due to the Council’s Property Procedure Rules, the Council can only decide whether to proceed with the highest scoring bid or not to proceed with any of the bids. Therefore, I would suggest that you view the proposals put forward by the top bidder on their website here: https://www.tottenhamhotspur.com/media/39082/whitewebbs.pdf and share your views or raise any questions you may have via the contact details you can find on the last page of the PDF.

As you will also know, I made it very clear to Enfield Council and to my constituents that I personally have concerns regarding public access, the woodlands and the protection and enhancement of biodiversity of this existing green space.

I am, therefore, very pleased to hear that the restoration of parklands and wild meadows, the reinstatement of 19th century parkland with a new café, toilets and other facilities, and the investment in improving biodiversity and improving paths for walking, cycling and horse riding are at the forefront of the proposals being put forward by Enfield Council for Whitewebbs.

These proposals, which would protect this existing green space at Whitewebbs that is valuable to many of us in Enfield, have alleviated my concerns and reassured me that the Council are keen to enhance public access, protect the woodlands, and enhance the biodiversity at Whitewebbs.

I also welcome proposals from Enfield Council to invest an extra £100,000 a year into grassroot sport for young people across the borough and I believe this could create many opportunities for our young people in Enfield.

As the proposals put forward by THFC are subject to planning permission, I am looking forward to seeing THFC engage with the local community during the planning process, should Enfield proceed with the proposals, and I would want you to engage in the consultation process to ensure your thoughts, concerns, and comments are heard.

Yours sincerely,
Feryal Clark
Member of Parliament for Enfield North 

Westminster Office
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA

Tel: 0207 219 6607

Website: https://www.feryalclark.co.uk/

Replies from Feryal Clark M.P.

RE: Whitewebbs Golf Course (Case Ref: FC7645)

Inbox

Feryal Clark MP <feryal.clark.mp@parliament.uk>7 Apr 2021, 14:09
to me

Dear Sean Wilkinson, 

RE: Whitewebbs Golf Course

Thank you for your email and letter regarding the above matter. I was very sorry to hear of your concerns regarding the lack of engagement from the council on this matter. I apologise for the delay in responding which is due to the time taken to receive information from Enfield council officers.

As a regular user of Whitewebbs grounds, I want to assure you that I recognise the significance of this green space, the woodlands, footpaths and bridal ways to our community. It has been particularly important during the recent lockdowns providing essential outdoor green space for walking, running and recreational use. Hence, I am clear these spaces must continue to be open and accessible to the local community.

Following the concerns raised with me by yourself and other residents regarding the closure of the golf course at Whitewebbs, I have made written enquires to Enfield council regarding the future of Whitewebbs. I believe the Council has subsequently written to all the residents in the surrounding area about this issue.

I am informed, by Enfield council, that the council property services team have been reviewing the financial viability of the current golf course at Whitewebbs for several of years. A decision was taken by the Council in 2019 to seek proposals from leisure providers, including golf course operators, for the future operation of Whitewebbs. I am informed that the council engaged with the local stakeholders at this stage incorporating their views into the councils marketing material setting out the ambitions and the scoring criteria for the bid assessment.

Following this consultation exercise the Council has undertaken a tendering process for the future operation of Whitewebbs and has stated that it expects to make an announcement shortly.

Whilst I recognise the need for the Council to ensure it has a financially viable leisure offer at Whitewebbs and public money is not being used to subsidise a loss making golf course, it must live up to its commitment to involve and engage local stakeholders in the final stages of the process and any final decision that is made.

As for the future leisure offer at Whitewebbs, whether this is Golf or other leisure use, the council must engage and give weighting to the wishes of local people including residents and community organisations, when making the final selection.

I personally have concerns regarding the woodlands and the protection and enhancement of biodiversity of this existing green space, I want to work with residents and local community and environmental groups to ensure  a clear plan for protecting these spaces is put in place.

This plan needs to include clarity regarding these spaces and a written commitment in any agreement for continued public access of all the woodland, footpaths and bridal ways. I strongly believe that any bidder selected by stakeholders and the council must be able to demonstrate to the community in Enfield North the public benefits of their proposals and how they will deliver access to new facilities to schools and local groups over the life of their operation of the site.

Finally, on the issue that you and many of my constituents have raised, the consultation, I share your concerns and agree the council must do better. At a time when all public offices are shut down due to lockdown, council officers must find creative and accessible ways to engage with the residents.

I have now written to the Leader and Chief Executive of the council to raise the grave concerns raised with me by my constituents. I have called on the council to halt any decision on the future of Whitewebbs until the local stakeholders have had an opportunity to meet with the relevant officers to review the bidders.

I have also asked that the council provide a forward plan on the different stages of the project for Whitewebbs clarifying the key decision points and how they intend to engage with residents moving forward. 

Thank you again for taking the time to write to me and I will do all that is in my power to ensure there is the level of transparency and engagement required and requested by you and residents of Enfield North.

I hope you find this response helpful and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions.

Yours sincerely, 
Feryal Clark
Member of Parliament for Enfield North

Further reply 

Dear Sean,

Thank you for your reply. Please accept my apologies for the rather slow response to your email, this is due to the sheer volume of COVID related casework my office is receiving.

On your point about the re-formation of the friends group, I’m assured that the stakeholder groups that existed and were active at the time were involved in the discussion about the future of Whitewebbs and in the development of the marketing material. It is great to hear that the friends group has grown in membership now and that it has now reformed now. The current group may hold a different view to the previous group, however I cannot level criticism at the council for having engaged with the existing group(s) at the time. As mentioned in my previous email, I have and will continue to call on the council to ensure local stakeholder groups are engaged and kept informed. 

On your point about the distinction I make between the woodland, publicly accessible and usable spaces and the space that is specifically designated as leisure space for use as a Golf Course. I make this distinction because these spaces are distinctly different.

The woodlands, bridal ways and public foot paths are settings and have distinctly different needs with regards to biodiversity. They have completely different uses and have different levels of public access e.g when the golf course is booked for use, the general public cannot use it.

On the other hand, the woodland has very specific species, such as trees and plants, and therefore will have much more significant biodiversity needs.

Whilst the woodland harbours very unique and different species and has vast different biodiversity, the golf course is green space that is mowed and has games played on it and is already closed to the public when its being used for golf.

Also, the woodland is currently always open to the public regardless of whether there is a private golf game on the golf course or not. I believe this is what we must work to preserve whatever the outcome of the councils proposals.  

I hope I have been able to address your points and clarify my views. 

Yours sincerely, 
Feryal Clark
Member of Parliament for Enfield North 

Response to formal letter of complaint

This is the text of the reply received from Mark Bradbury:

Note: A “Decision” is made by the Council. The recommendation for a “preferred bidder” is made by officers.

Classification: OFFICIAL

Dear Sean,

I refer to your letter of 5th April setting out a formal complaint. As I explained in my earlier response, stage one of our complaints procedure involves the service responding to address your concerns.

Whilst your letter refers to a number of issues I would summarise the complaint as being that the Council has failed to engage with stakeholders prior to making a decision on the leasing of Whitewebbs Park.

I must reiterate that no decision on the leasing has been made so therefore in my view we have not failed to engage before making that decision. As I have previously advised the project has been on hold due to other priorities during the pandemic.

Your letter sets out a number of more specific points which I will address individually.

1. From the initial poster that was issued by the council: The Council are consulting with the Friends of Whitewebbs Park throughout the project, to ensure that park users views are represented and the best outcomes for local people are achieved. a. This has not happened. The Friends of Whitewebbs have sought information but this is not consultation.

Response :-

The project has been on hold since March 2020. This is the sole reason for the gap in engagement. No decision on the leasing has been taken and our commitment to advise stakeholders of the next steps once the project recommences has been conveyed to you. In the meantime your requests for information have been responded to.

2. Explicit assurances have been given about consultation. This one from Mark Bradbury, Director of Property and Economy December 9, 2019 a. “The next stage is to assess the proposals and take planning advice on some of them. We will then go back to bidders with enhanced criteria and a number of additional questions (which we will share openly) to enable them to submit final proposals and for us to eliminate any that do not meet the criteria. The intention is to draw up a short list. We will engage with members and stakeholders at that stage before selecting a preferred partner.”

Response :-

As at December 9th 2019 the Council had received 38 expressions of interest. If all of those, or even a high proportion of those, expressions of interest resulted in bids being made in the second phase, it was our intention to draw up a short list. The next stage of seeking planning advice, setting enhanced criteria, which we have shared, and requiring the bidders to seek pre-application planning advice has had the effect of filtering out a number of expressions of interest that would not have met the criteria.

As you are aware 6 bids were received of which 1 was subsequently withdrawn. The process has therefore effectively shortlisted the proposals to 5 for us, we do not consider there is a need to shortlist further. As stated above the project has been on hold since March 2020 and we will engage with members and stakeholders sharing details of all 5 of the bids before selecting a preferred partner.

3. All the initiatives for public discussion have come from users and supporters of the park. At a well attended Green Belt Forum (15th January 2020) unsuccessful attempts were made to limit discussion. At the meeting senior officers and councillors conceded that the scheme had been mishandled and that there would be consultations with “stakeholder “groups.

a. “Once all bids are in the Council will engage with public Stakeholder Groups (The Woodland Group had been added to this list and Mark Bradbury encouraged other stakeholder groups to come forward)) to obtain their views and input. Local residents are also encouraged to share what they would like to see at Whitewebbs so that this can inform the decision-making process.”

b. The Chair thanked Mark for his interesting update along with residents for their engagement, comments and input. He suggested that if procurement rules allowed, the preferred bidders be asked to present their proposals to the public Stakeholder Groups to allow an informed decision to be made. Minutes of Green Belt Forum

c. “We accept the marketing literature and early communications have not helped with the concerns the public have held…. (Mark Bradbury)

Response : –

A number of stakeholder groups and organisations contacted me following the request you outline above. These have been recorded on the Council’s website and several have expressed views that were taken into account in setting out the enhanced criteria as were the views expressed at the greenbelt forum. Bids are assessed against these criteria and in accordance with a scoring matrix which we have also published on our website in line with our Property Procedure Rules.

Many of the other stakeholder groups have understood why the Council has needed to pause the project over the course of the last year.

As I have stated above details of all of the bids will be shared with all stakeholders before any decision on the leasing is made.

4. Subsequently the Green Belt Forum was abandoned its agenda lost and replaced by an existing group principally concerned with the built environment. The recommendation from the Green Belt forum was not followed up.

Response :-

As stated above the recommendations regarding stakeholders and sharing details of bids will be followed up. The sharing of details of the bids has not happened to date because the project has been on hold. No decision on the leasing has been made in the meantime.

5. The park supporters organised a petition which gained more than enough signatures for us to address a council meeting. (26th February 2020) The Leader of the Council agreed to consultation with stakeholder groups at the short-listing stage for bidders. This was recorded somewhat ambiguously in the minutes. We request an independent verbatim transcript from the unedited video recording of the meeting.

Response :-

I have responded to the point about engagement at the shortlisting stage above. I will refer your request for a transcript to our Governance team.

6. We were encouraged by the Deputy Leader to recruit stakeholders and these were registered with the Council. They represent park users, youth organisations, the Woodland Trust and various environmental and wildlife organisations of good standing.

Response :-

This is noted and I believe that many of these are listed on our website. If there are others that are not listed please let me know.

7. To the best of our knowledge there has been no consultation with the stakeholder groups. Individuals and the Friends of Whitewebbs have written to Mark Bradbury about concerns as information has dribbled out but his response cannot be considered consultation.

Response :-

I have explained the reasons why formal engagement has not commenced. Several of the stakeholder groups have however shared views with us and accepted the reasons for the project being on hold.

8. A decision was made not to re-open the Golf Course on 29th March 2021. This decision, which has major implications for the future of the whole park, was made with no official notice and no consultation with users and other interested stakeholders. This adoption of a “salami style” approach to the park’s development is not worthy of an honourable and democratic authority.

Response :-

As you are aware that decision has been subject to a call in and after discussion at the Council’s overview and scrutiny panel has been confirmed.

9. There has been more than one attempt to portray the park and ancient woodland as part of the golf course whereas the reverse is true. Officers have attempted to rewrite history.

Response :-

Officers are aware of the history of the park and woodlands and that the golf course has only been on the site since the 1930’s.

10. There has been an apparent attempt to restrict access to rights of way. We have been led to believe, after challenge, that this is not the case but the latest marketing update could and should be much more explicit. We are alert to restrictions in access across the site. We draw your attention to the definition of “access” in our response to the Blue and Green consultation.

Response :-

I am not aware of any ‘apparent attempt’ to restrict access to rights of way. This is certainly not the intention of the marketing process which seeks to enhance access. Please share further details of the ‘apparent attempts’ so I can consider these further.

11. The Chase Ward councillors were supposed to be present as observers at the short-listing evaluation process. This represents an essential role as they would be the only people present with any democratic accountability This has not, we understand, been the case. As no information or guidance has been relayed back to us by councillors from their confidential access to the bidding process, we must assume this assurance too has not been met.

Response:-

As stated above no short listing has been undertaken and no decision on the leasing has been made. Details of all bids will be shared before any decision on the leasing is made. Ward Councillors received a confidential briefing on the bids received immediately before the project was put on hold due to the pandemic.

12. “A final decision on the future of Whitewebbs will therefore not be taken ahead of the engagement on the Blue Green Strategy.” 10th December 2020. (Mark Bradbury) Has the Blue Green Strategy engagement been completed or is this one more delaying tactic without substance?

Response :-

I made this statement in response to the following statement in your email of 30th November 2020 – ‘To make a decision about the future of Whitewebbs before the imminent consultation on the parks strategy for Enfield makes little sense in current circumstances.’

13. There is a widespread belief that a decision as to the future of the park has already been made without consultation, contrary to many promises by senior officers and councillors. The premature closure of the golf course serves only to give support to this belief. We serve notice that if this has occurred we will use all means to get this called-in and debated openly when all the misrepresentations of previous months will weigh in the balance, and be seen in full by the public. You will understand that public trust in this process is, owing to officers’ misrepresentations, very low, something a council valuing its reputation would wish to resolve.

Response :-

No decision on the leasing has been made. I have been clear in all of my communications to you that this is the case. We have committed to engage before a decision is made and that will be the case.

14. We have grave reservations about the letter to all households in the Chase Ward sent out by Mark Bradbury just before the “Purdah” period a timing surely with no operational purpose other than to preclude public examination and influence. Our justified suspicions are enhanced by the deliberate distortions and misrepresentation of the facts. We doubt the appropriateness of this communication from a senior Officer of the Council. The misleading opportunity cost comparisons are a clumsy diversion. The suggestion that closing the course was purely to save money just before it was likely to experience its highest summer income for years is, to say the least, questionable. The asserted but much contested “losses” accumulated over 5 years should be withdrawn as an unfit basis on which to conduct discussion of public policy.

Response :-

The letter was issued to counter rumours that the site was set to be used as a landfill or for housing development and was sent outside of the purdah period.

15. We note the comments – paras 32 and 33 Advance Publication of Reports March 10th

a. There is no statutory legal duty to consult on the proposed closure of Whitewebbs Park Golf Club.

b. There is a however a public law duty to consider. Specifically, a duty may arise because parties to be consulted have a legitimate expectation of consultation, which results either from a promise or from an established practice of consultation. The document fails to acknowledge that commitments have already been made to consult

Response :-

              Commitments were made to engage prior to making a decision on the leasing of the course. No decision has been made on the leasing of the course and as I have stated above we will carry out that engagement.

From the same document Paras 25 and 26 Equalities Impact of the proposal “A scoping assessment has concluded that the equalities impact assessment is neither relevant nor proportionate for the approval of this report” This is one of a very limited number of public courses in the area. No membership qualifications, low fees, anyone can play. Since when has open to all not been relevant to equal opportunities?

The reference to membership discounts and carefully selected comparable fees reflect the viewpoint of a high earner not those of with a more modest income or on a minimum wage.

Response :-

Trent Park Golf Course offers rates that are lower in many cases than Whitewebbs, as does Lee Valley. The Community Access scheme at Enfield and Crews Hill is equivalent to less than £10 per week. There are 6 courses within the borough and a further dozen close to the borough boundary demonstrating a good range of provision for all abilities and budgets.

I have been monitoring tee time availability at a number of courses including Trent Park and Lee Valley. A wide range of tee times are available at short notice at both courses during the week (with green fees from £12 and £11 respectively) and at the weekend if booked a few days ahead. This suggests that there is ample capacity.

Why issue assurances and then serially disregard them? The public interest is not represented anywhere in these indefensible proceedings.

The whole process from the start to where we are now has been mishandled.

Response : –

The assurances have not been disregarded. The project has been on hold and we will engage before any decision on the leasing is made.

You have concluded your letter as follows :-

We seek the council’s urgent reconsideration of the objectives and process for planning the future of Whitewebbs Park, prioritising its social and ecological value in pursuance of stated council aims and strategies.

We expect the Council and its Officers to comply with the promises made for full consultationwith all stakeholders in accordance with 2 a above. Anything less would be viewed as a gross breach of faith on the part of the Council and its Officers.

This consultation to be undertaken at senior level to incorporate realistic and informed judgements as to how the public can be best served.

Whitewebbs Park plays no part in any LBE housing plan and this requires to be stated again up front.

Ruling out the site for all non-related developments or apportionments is an essential first step, followed by open consultation with the public, avoiding tendencies to pre-judge and broadcast predetermined positions.

Response :-

We have been clear on our website that ‘all bids are required to consist of outdoor based leisure activities. Non-leisure proposals will not be considered.’

Whitewebbs Park is a public asset of which the Council is a custodian and must be treated appropriately in future.

*Consultation should, as a minimum consist of:

1. Sight in full of the 5/6 final bids together with a written resume of their key features.

2. Adequate time to inform and receive feedback from our members. (10 working days)

3. A clear account of the terms of the leases and the arrangements for enforcement.

Response :-

As I have stated above the Council will share details of all 5 bids with all stakeholders prior to any decision being made on the leasing. At that stage we will confirm further details on how and when a decision will be made and this will also be published on our website.

I trust my responses reassure you that the Council remains committed to meaningful engagement with stakeholder prior to the making of any decision on the leasing of Whitewebbs. As previously advised I hope to be back in touch with all stakeholders shortly with the next steps.

Regards

Mark

Mark Bradbury MRICS, FRSA, FIoEE

Director of Property and Economy

Enfield Council

Silver Street

Enfield

EN1 3XY

Formal Complaint to Enfield Council regarding the marketing of Whitewebbs Park and the failure to consult.

Ian Davis

 CEO Enfield Council

5th April 2021

Dear Mr Davis

Formal Complaint  regarding  the marketing and development of Whitewebbs Park

The Friends of Whitewebbs Park (approx. 200 members) represent the concerns of many who live in Enfield, value the park and enjoy its great heritage, biodiversity and health benefits.

Since the council began its attempt to monetarise Whitewebbs, we have encountered nothing but confusion, misdirection, and gross misrepresentation that our councillors have been unable to resolve on our behalf.

In particular the Council has failed serially on commitments to consult and take into account the wishes of the vastly increasing numbers who use the park.

The most recent notice issued by Mark Bradbury, Director of Property and Economy, to all the households of the Chase Ward represents a low point in this saga.

His letter has disturbed residents and dismayed the many who would like to believe the standards claimed by this council actually have meaning.

If LBE wishes to monetise Whitewebbs it should put it to the people openly, not conceal their real intent by delay, secrecy and obfuscation.

 We are signalling that we have no reason to have faith in LBE to control any possible tenant because of the council’s past record and its refusal to transparently publish the bids for Whitewebbs Park. Hiding behind the cloak of “commercial confidentiality” and “procurement rules” is unreasonable, oppressive and counterproductive.

 Positive Enhancement Prospects

The Friends may be in favour of improvements to the park that will enhance its character and enable more people to enjoy its unique environment. But, the nature of these is best understood by the thousands of park users, not a few senior councillors and officials who barely know the park.

Pending meaningful, open and honest consultations we now enter a formal complaint with the expectation that these matters are put into competent hands and managed openly with regard to the council’s democratic duties towards residents.

We respectfully remind the Council and its officers that they are custodians of a public park not private property magnates.

The Grievance:

We request an assurance that in regard to Whitewebbs Park no deals or leases will be entered into until promises of consultation made by Officers and Councillors are fully delivered.

We submit it is in the borough’s interest to suspend the marketing process until the Council, in good faith, meets its commitments both in the spirit and the letter to hold full, transparent and meaningful consultation with all stakeholders.

The specific intention being to incorporate public opinion into the formation of policy towards this park.

 By reneging on promised consultation and by premature closures the Council has given credence to the widely held belief that it has already made or is about to make a decision without honouring its commitment to consultation.

The process to date appears to have been a means to delay inspection of the council’s plans so that the people of Enfield are excluded from the democratic process leaving the decision in the hands of two or three councillors and a few senior officers most of whom do not live in the borough and who will not have to live with the consequences of their recommendations.

The golf course has been closed but we have been given no reason other than recourse to a much-disputed claim of £1.1m accumulated loss for the last 5 years.

 Mr Bradbury’s note was also couched in such political terms with comparisons to other social claimants as to cause disbelief amongst residents.

 We do not accept the claims for loss until we see a detailed breakdown, acceptable to a competent accountant, stripping overheads allocated, taxes and other imposts, leaving the net operating costs. We find no cause for LBE to deny such information.

Furthermore the insistence that there is no demand for golf in this area, and that the borough is fully supplied with golf facilities, is a baseless claim unsustainable and unprovable.

There has been no evidence presented that a publicly accessible sports facility appropriate to the green belt in this location will offer better prospects than the current facility. The current facility has been restricted by successive administrations to a business model that is bound to struggle.

The Particulars

  1. From the initial poster that was issued by the council:
    The Council are consulting with the Friends of Whitewebbs Park throughout the project, to ensure that park users views are represented and the best outcomes for local people are achieved.
    1. This has not happened. The Friends of Whitewebbs have sought information but this is not consultation.
  2. Explicit assurances have been given about consultation. This one from Mark Bradbury, Director of Property and Economy December 9, 2019
    1. “The next stage is to assess the proposals and take planning advice on some of them. We will then go back to bidders with enhanced criteria and a number of additional questions (which we will share openly) to enable them to submit final proposals and for us to eliminate any that do not meet the criteria. The intention is to draw up a short list. We will engage with members and stakeholders at that stage before selecting a preferred partner.”
  3. All the initiatives for public discussion have come from users and supporters of the park. At a well attended Green Belt Forum (15th January 2020) unsuccessful attempts were made to limit discussion. At the meeting senior officers and councillors conceded that the scheme had been mishandled and that there would be consultations with “stakeholder “groups.
    1. “Once all bids are in the Council will engage with public Stakeholder Groups (The Woodland Group had been added to this list and Mark Bradbury encouraged other stakeholder groups to come forward)) to obtain their views and input. Local residents are also encouraged to share what they would like to see at Whitewebbs so that this can inform the decision-making process.”
    1. The Chair thanked Mark for his interesting update along with residents for their engagement, comments and input. He suggested that if procurement rules allowed, the preferred bidders be asked to present their proposals to the public Stakeholder Groups to allow an informed decision to be made. Minutes of Green Belt Forum
    1. “We accept the marketing literature and early communications have not helped with the concerns the public have held…. (Mark Bradbury)
  4. Subsequently the Green Belt Forum was abandoned its agenda lost and replaced by an existing group principally concerned with the built environment. The recommendation from the Green Belt forum was not followed up.
  5. The park supporters organised a petition which gained more than enough signatures for us to address a council meeting. (26th February 2020) The Leader of the Council agreed to consultation with stakeholder groups at the short-listing stage for bidders. This was recorded somewhat ambiguously in the minutes. We request an independent verbatim transcript from the unedited video recording of the meeting.
  6. We were encouraged by the Deputy Leader to recruit stakeholders and these were registered with the Council.  They represent park users, youth organisations, the Woodland Trust and various environmental and wildlife organisations of good standing.
  7. To the best of our knowledge there has been no consultation with the stakeholder groups. Individuals and the Friends of Whitewebbs have written to Mark Bradbury about concerns as information has dribbled out but his response cannot be considered consultation.
  8. A decision was made not to re-open the Golf Course on 29th March 2021. This decision, which has major implications for the future of the whole park, was made with no official notice and no consultation with users and other interested stakeholders. This adoption of a “salami style” approach to the park’s development is not worthy of an honourable and democratic authority.
  9. There has been more than one attempt to portray the park and ancient woodland as part of the golf course whereas the reverse is true. Officers have attempted to rewrite history.
  10. There has been an apparent attempt to restrict access to rights of way. We have been led to believe, after challenge, that this is not the case but the latest marketing update could and should be much more explicit. We are alert to restrictions in access across the site. We draw your attention to the definition of “access” in our response to the Blue and Green consultation.
  11. The Chase Ward councillors were supposed to be present as observers at the short-listing evaluation process. This represents an essential role as they would be the only people present with any democratic accountability This has not, we understand, been the case. As no information or guidance has been relayed back to us by councillors from their confidential access to the bidding process, we must assume this assurance too has not been met.
  12. “A final decision on the future of Whitewebbs will therefore not be taken ahead of the engagement on the Blue Green Strategy.” 10th December 2020. (Mark Bradbury)
    Has the Blue Green Strategy engagement been completed or is this one more delaying tactic without substance?
  13. There is a widespread belief that a decision as to the future of the park has already been made without consultation, contrary to many promises by senior officers and councillors.

     The premature closure of the golf course serves only to give support to this belief. We serve notice that if this has occurred we will use all means to get this called-in and debated openly when all the misrepresentations of previous months will weigh in the balance, and be seen in full by the public.
    You will understand that public trust in this process is, owing to officers’ misrepresentations, very low, something a council valuing its reputation would wish to resolve.
  1. We have grave reservations about the letter to all households in the Chase Ward sent out by Mark Bradbury just before the “Purdah” period a timing surely with no operational purpose other than to preclude public examination and influence.
     
    Our justified suspicions are enhanced by the deliberate distortions and misrepresentation of the facts.  We doubt the appropriateness of this communication from a senior Officer of the Council. The misleading opportunity cost comparisons are a clumsy diversion. The suggestion that closing the course was purely to save money  just before it was likely to experience its highest  summer income for years is, to say the least, questionable.

    The asserted but much contested “losses” accumulated over 5 years should be withdrawn as an unfit basis on which to conduct discussion of public policy.

  2. We note the comments – paras 32 and 33   Advance Publication of Reports March 10th
    1. There is no statutory legal duty to consult on the proposed closure of Whitewebbs

Park Golf Club.

  • There is a however a public law duty to consider. Specifically, a duty may arise because parties to be consulted have a legitimate expectation of consultation, which results either from a promise or from an established practice of consultation.
    The document fails to acknowledge that commitments have already been made to consult

From the same document Paras 25 and 26

Equalities Impact of the proposal
“A scoping assessment has concluded that the equalities impact assessment is neither relevant nor proportionate for the approval of this report”
This is one of a very limited number of public courses in the area. No membership qualifications, low fees, anyone can play. Since when has open to all not been relevant to equal opportunities?

The reference to membership discounts and carefully selected comparable fees reflect the viewpoint of a high earner not those of with a more modest income or on a minimum wage.


Environmental and climate change considerations 
“In the short term, the proposals are likely to reduce vehicle trips which will have a positive impact on carbon emissions given that transport (predominantly fossil fuel- based road transport) is accountable for 39% of the borough wide total “.
.

Of course it won’t – golfers will be expected to travel further by car to all those courses which you seem to think will have spare capacity.

The above demonstrate the limited thinking that went into the document.

 Why issue assurances and then serially disregard them?  The public interest is not represented anywhere in these indefensible proceedings.

The whole process from the start to where we are now has been mishandled.

Many see this exercise as an experimental precursor to the privatisation of all public park activity and facilities – see the consultations on park events and the Green and Blue strategy.

If LBE wishes to make all open spaces net financial contributors, it will not gain public support, nor evidently is such a policy feasible. In particular it would run counter to the many assurances issued that LBE is concerned for health equality across the borough.

Conclusion

We seek the council’s urgent reconsideration of the objectives and process for planning the future of Whitewebbs Park, prioritising its social and ecological value in pursuance of stated council aims and strategies.

We expect the Council and its Officers to comply with the promises made for full consultation* with all stakeholders in accordance with 2 a above. Anything less would be viewed as a gross breach of faith on the part of the Council and its Officers.

This consultation to be undertaken at senior level to incorporate realistic and informed judgements as to how the public can be best served.

Whitewebbs Park plays no part in any LBE housing plan and this requires to be stated again up front.

Ruling out the site for all non-related developments or apportionments is an essential first step, followed by open consultation with the public, avoiding tendencies to pre-judge and broadcast predetermined positions.

Whitewebbs Park is a public asset of which the Council is a custodian and must be treated appropriately in future.

*Consultation  should, as a minimum consist of:

1. Sight in full of the 5/6 final  bids together with a written resume of their key features.

2. Adequate time to inform and receive feedback from our members. (10 working days)

3. A clear account of the terms of the leases and the arrangements for enforcement.

Yours sincerely

Sean Wilkinson

Chair of the Friends of Whitewebbs Park

Briefing letter sent to Feryal Clark M.P.

Feryal Clark’s tweet

“I have also had many emails regarding the Whitewebbs Golf Course. I was pleased to see the Council have now issued a press release on the future of Whitewebbs Golf Course after misinformation was spreading online about the site being used for housing or landfill. Following years of making a financial loss, despite measures to improve its situation, the council are exploring options for the Golf Course. With the pandemic also putting significant pressure on the Council, they can no longer justify using taxpayers’ money to keep the Golf Course running. They are undertaking a procurement process to determine the future of the Golf course. I was pleased to see that the council had made it clear they want applications to meet the needs of the local community and any proposed use of the site to increase community access to Whitewebbs for walking, recreation, leisure, and other uses.”

Dear Feryal Clark

I was unhappy to see the text of your recent tweet (above) regarding Whitewebbs Golf Course.

I remember noting at a hustings meeting for the general election that you had been badly briefed about the necessity to continue leasing out the golf course at Whitewebbs. This was untrue and  that was confirmed at a public meeting by the Director of Property and Economy.

I realise that you are extremely busy  and have to rely on others for information upon which to base your statements.

Your recent tweet indicates that the briefing from whoever has been limited, partial and misleading.

The story is long and complicated so I will try to keep it as short as possible.

Promised Consultation – none

  1. There has been no meaningful Council consultation with the public, certainly none initiated by the Council.
    1. Early pre- marketing discussions with the Green Belt Forum indicated that only the golf course was to be “marketed”. This was changed  at the last minute to be golf course, parkland and ancient woodland.
    1. Public notification in the park was limited to one A4 poster  on a seldom used noticeboard in the 240 acre park.
  2. Assurance have been given about consultation. This one from Mark Bradbury December 9, 2019 at 3:09 pm
    1. “The next stage is to assess the proposals and take planning advice on some of them. We will then go back to bidders with enhanced criteria and a number of additional questions (which we will share openly) to enable them to submit final proposals and for us to eliminate any that do not meet the criteria. The intention is to draw up a short list. We will engage with members and stakeholders at that stage before selecting a preferred partner.”
  3. All the initiatives for public discussion have come from users and supporters of the park. At a well attended Green Belt Forum unsuccessful attempts were made to limit discussion. At the meeting senior officers and councillors conceded that the scheme had been mishandled and that there would be consultations with “stakeholder “ groups.
    1. “Once all bids are in the Council will engage with public Stakeholder Groups (The Woodland Group had been added to this list and Mark Bradbury encouraged other stakeholder groups to come forward)) to obtain their views and input. Local residents are also encouraged to share what they would like to see at Whitewebbs so that this can inform the decision-making process.”
    1. The Chair thanked Mark for his interesting update along with residents for their engagement, comments and input. He suggested that if procurement rules allowed, the preferred bidders be asked to present their proposals to the public Stakeholder Groups to allow an informed decision to be made. Minutes of Green Belt Forum
  4. Subsequently the Green Belt Forum was abandoned and replaced by an existing group principally concerned with the built environment. The recommendation from the Chair was  not followed up.
  5. The park supporters organised a petition which gained more than enough signatures for us to address a council meeting. The Leader of the Council agreed to consultation with stakeholder groups at the short listing stage for bidders. This was recorded a little ambiguously in the minutes.
  6. We were encouraged by the Deputy Leader to recruit stakeholders and these were registered with the Council.  They represent park users, youth organisations, the woodland and  various environmental and wildlife organisations of good standing.
  7. To the best of our knowledge there has been no consultation with the stakeholder groups. Individuals and the Friends of Whitewebbs have written to Mark Bradbury about concerns as information has dribbled out but this is not consultation.

Moving goal posts – attempts have been made to make alterations to the marketing process.

  1. Access – “current level of public access across the park to be maintained”. At one point this was revised  to “rights of way” of which there are none save for two sections of the bridleway. After a challenge Mark Bradbury assured us that access by all the formal and informal pathways would be retained. This has yet to be made explicit on the Council website. Clear maps and standards of maintenance are required.
  2. Status of the Park.  Whitewebbs Park was bought  for the people of Enfield by an enlightened council in 1931. One hundred or so acres were subsequently laid out as a public golf course. The golf course was part of the park. The Council in its latest publications asserts that the 140 acres of ancient woodland  and park areas are part of the golf course (or adjacent land as it was dismissively referred to in the marketing material). The OS map shows all 240 acres as Whitewebbs Park Country Park.

Golf Course

  1. There is much debate and scepticism  about the accounts presented. It is apparent that all sorts of costs  can be assigned to match a particular viewpoint. Depreciation and central costs can be adjusted  at will. The business model for the course has been kept as unviable by past and current administrations. No course survives on “green fees” (the charge for playing a game). Bar takings, function room hire, shop and café /restaurant all contribute to a viable business model. Whitewebbs has to manage on green fees, a small shop and a vending machine.
  2. This course provides affordable play for the average earner and less well off. There are concessions for pensioners and significantly lower rates for off peak times. Players do not have to pay expensive membership fees.
  3. There is a Golf Club but it is a relic of the past. It is a private social club with no role in the running of the course. It rents the old club house at the southern end of the course. The vast majority of golf rounds are played by  “pay and play” members of the general public.

Effects of closing the course taken from  Portfolio report on closing the golf course. 10th March

Environment and climate change  considerations.

  1. “..will reduce vehicle trips” If you close a local golf course so that  golfers have to drive further to other courses how on earth  does that decrease carbon emissions? Who came up with that idea?
  2. Contrary to the view of those who have never visited the course, the land is a diverse mix of grasses, hedgerows,  shrubs, wild flowers, water courses and a wide variety of tree species. Birds abound, including hawks and other predators as well as flying insects. Sometimes during the day but more often at night foxes, deer and smaller mammals abound. There are bat colonies on the course and around the margins. The open spaces are their feeding ground. The course provides biological corridors between  Forty Hall and Whitewebbs Woods. While we fully support the planting of more trees in appropriate areas there is a strong  case for a mix of woodland and open areas when encouraging biodiversity.

Workforce implications

  1. Let us not forget that it takes skill and experience to maintain a golf course. The skill, pride and livelihood of the groundstaff are at risk.

Equalities impact of the closure

  1. Let us be absolutely clear about this course. It is not a club with membership fees. It is a good course, not up to championship standards, but good enough for the workaday player. It survives on green fees, no bar or function rooms. The fees are low compared with others in the area. There are substantial concessions for the senior citizens. Off peak twilight times offer the less well off the opportunity to play at very reasonable rates.
  2. This Council has, without consultation and on uncertain figures, stopped the less advantaged on pensions, student loans and low income from having 3 hours of healthy, sociable, mind mending physical activity. Those on £100,000+ salaries will be fine if they want to play, not the ordinary citizen.

Alternative courses

  1. The Officers blithely assert “There are several other courses in the borough …… that offer opportunities for golfers and prospective golfers to enjoy the sport.” This is a nonsense. The demand for golf in the area is high and capacity has fallen. Trent Park (A public  course) has abandoned all concessionary rates. I understand that there is a month long waiting list for tee off times already.  The private clubs that offer a limited amount of pay and play (peak periods reserved for £1400+ a year members) charge £35 to £50 a round and can require that you go round in a foursome, so you need well-off friends. Currently, I believe, the golf clubs are not permitting pay and play as demand from members is so high.

Throwing away money

  1. The timing of the closure is  mystifying. After the first lockdown period income from the golf course went up 80% on the previous year, month for month. This was dismissed as “ a temporary situation where existing golfers made up for lost rounds during lockdown.” No evidence to support  this statement was provided. It is  now clear, however, that this is not a temporary situation. We are in a second post lockdown period where the vast majority will be holidaying at home. It is also likely that we will not be back to “normal” for months if not years. Patterns of work and leisure have changed, perhaps for good. Based on last year’s figures the golf course could expect a cash income of £200,000 to £300,000+ over the next 6 months. Is the Council so flush with money that this can be disregarded?
  2. At the very least  the excess of cash income over wages and running costs could be used to upgrade paths and facilities in the rest of the park.
  3. There are clear reasons for keeping the course open at least until winter, why then is this pre-emptive  move being made?


The golf course has been an integral part of the park  and of the “Marketing “ process. This decision to close it has been made in isolation from consideration of the future of the whole park without any consultation whatsoever. We were also told that no decisions would be made about the park until after the “Blue and Green” strategy  consultation process was complete.

Mark Bradbury’s letter to Chase Ward

I was very surprised to see that Mark Bradbury had written to all households in  the Chase ward just before the  election Purdah period. I have no doubt that you have seen it so these  are just a few comments. Some are repeats of what is above.

It appears to be a re-iteration of points, denying things that have not been issues such as landfill and housing. Nobody has referred to land fill, except  Council officers since just after the botched marketing process began.  It arose as an issue because the marketing material referred to the possibility of using  200,000 cu metres of “inert material” (almost any old building rubbish) for landscaping.  While the inert material has been changed to “soil” there has been no absolute denial that this quantity of landscaping material could be permitted – approx 17000 lorry loads. There have been all sorts of  social media allegations but these stem from the wall of secrecy surrounding this long and drawn out process.  The council has no-one to blame but itself.  It keeps the issue alive by  constant denials  – perhaps a case of “   … doth protest too much”

Freehold / Leasehold. Once the land has gone whether by  freehold or leasehold it has gone from public control.

 This Council, by its own admission, has an appalling record of not enforcing the terms of leases.(Green Belt Forum) Those responsible for drawing up the leases  and approving them will be long gone by the time the lease is up for renewal. No accountability.

“The woodlands will continue to be protected” and the rest of the park?

The Golf Course has made a loss – This depends on how the Council assigns overheads, central costs and depreciation. The business model for the golf course which is unlike other golf courses  ensures a “loss”. What is the income from the Carvery lease, the café lease, the social club lease?  How could these be better managed to generate income for the park.

Mark Bradbury makes a political point  comparing the cost of social workers and care costs with his notional costs of the golf course. Has he costed  in the health benefits both mental and physical of the 25,000 rounds of golf played  on the course every year. The activity probably greatly reduces the need for social workers and care costs.

The maths of the comparison need a closer look. His £1 Million cost of 22  full-time social workers is over 1 year. But the 1 million “loss” is over 5 years. This suggests that a full-time social worker costs the Council (salary/Employers NIC/all other costs) £9,900 per year.  This equates to each social worker being paid less than £5 per hour, an amount far below the minimum wage.

The closure of the golf course is going to cost  Enfield  £200,000 to £300,000 plus this year in cash green fees at a time when other courses will be jam packed  and the demand for golf is at a high. Look at the figures  for the post lockdown period last year – income up 80%

The point about 135 golf club members is totally irrelevant and misleading. Whitewebbs is not a membership  club charging over £1000 a year for membership. It is a public pay and play course for ordinary people who don’t want the rigmarole of posh private clubs. Costs of playing are substantially lower than at neighbouring clubs offering pay and play.

What alternate leisure activities on this site are going to generate income? Jogging?

Sean Wilkinson

Chair of the Friends of Whitewebbs park