Golfer accuses council of discriminating against the disabled

A MEMBER of Southsea Golf Club has accused Portsmouth City Council of discriminating against the disabled.

Saturday, 14th April 2018, 7:00 am
Golfers Graham Marks, left, and Robert Reeds with their buggies

Robert Reeds, 75 has been a club member since 1999, paying an annual fee of £629 for his membership.

That fee allows Robert to play golf all year round and, most importantly, take part in the Saturday competitions.

Due to suffering with knee problems and being diagnosed as diabetic, Robert requires the use of a golf buggy to play.

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But during periods of bad weather, the club regularly closes off certain parts of the green to buggies as it does not have pathways throughout the entire course.

Robert and his friends say they are ‘furious’ to have to pay this sum as, since November, they claim that they have only been able to play the full course on five occasions.

The land is owned by the council, who also receive the membership payments.

Robert said: ‘I understand that bad weather effects all golf courses but we are outraged that the council refuse to put in pathways for buggy users.

‘Between November and March the weather always impedes play, which means us disabled users don’t get full access.

‘Buggy users are told they can only play the back seven holes and not the full 18.

‘This means we cannot take part in the competitions and we aren’t getting value for money.

‘However, non-buggy users can play the full course.

‘The council refuses to build the pathways that will allow us all to play. It’s discrimination.’

Robert said that the club used to take membership payments through a monthly direct debit scheme, before changing the method to an annual payment.

He explained: ‘I lost four months of play last year.

‘We have roughly 16 members who use buggies, most of whom haven’t been able to play since December.

‘It’s a recurring issue each year, so some of us stopped paying our direct debit.

‘Shortly after, the council said we had to pay annual payments instead.

‘I don’t understand why the council won’t put in pathways so that everybody who pays can play.

‘It’s what’s fair and what’s right.

‘We’re being fleeced here and it’s outrageous. This fee is a lot of money to us.’

Southsea Golf Club did not respond to The News’ request for a comment.

Adrian Rozier, the council’s parks and open spaces service manager, said: ‘This has been a very unusual year for rainfall and unfortunately this has meant extended restrictions on buggies, to protect some areas of the course.

‘We monitor it daily and hope it will be fully open very soon, possibly this weekend.

‘We’re sorry some people have been unable to play all the holes, but such restrictions are standard on golf courses after bad weather.

‘Unlike some, we have not imposed total bans on buggies.

‘The annual seven-day fee of £629 is very good value, but we also offer a pay-as-you-play option.

‘We work with Southsea Golf Club to agree course improvements with the funds available.

‘We’ve considered putting in paths, but this would involve a substantial cost that would have to be reflected in fees.

‘It would also be difficult to create paths without affecting the layout of the course.’