Plans for the future of a Bath golf course will not be revealed for two weeks.
Bath and North East Somerset Council cabinet bosses have voted to appoint a preferred bidder to run Entry Hill but commercial sensitivity means its name and the nature of its bid remain hidden.
A consultation last year revealed that more than three-quarters of respondents wanted it to become a mountain bike park, while another proposal was to turn into a nature park.
Councillor Paul Crossley, the cabinet member for community services, said the chosen firm will offer “a range of leisure outcomes and community involvement”.
Golfer Elizabeth Hallam, who previously claimed the survey was hijacked by the “cycling lobby on steroids”, told cabinet members on 11th February: “You have a gem at Entry Hill yet every public statement has been prefaced with talk of declining numbers and financial losses.
“What level of mismanagement have you overseen? What burden have you imposed on council tax payers?
“I am so worried that you have been misled about the prospects for Entry Hill.”
She said she was “horrified” at claims on social media it is likely to become a bike park, and warned that the Avon Wildlife Trust and Forest of Imagination’s plans for a nature park risked being a “white elephant” reliant on grants and loans to set up.
The decision comes down to finances but Ms Hallam said golf could be a “cost-free solution to a self-inflicted problem”.
The golf course, which has been closed during the pandemic while the sport has reportedly grown in popularity, currently costs the council £70,000 a year.
Cllr Richard Samuel, the cabinet member for resources, said the council is no longer able to support loss-making ventures.
Cllr Crossley said: “Discretionary services such as leisure must aim to deliver financially sustainable solutions.
“Golf at Entry Hill has required significant subsidy from the council for some time now.
“Any outcome from today must be affordable and meet the council’s desired outcomes as well as the needs of the community.”
The brief required bidders to contribute to the authority’s climate and ecological emergency goals, help more people get active and operate without a subsidy.
Cllr Crossley added: “One bid exceeded all others responding to the brief and offering a facility with a range of leisure outcomes and community involvement and that is company E.”
The cabinet voted to accept the bid from company E.
The details of the bidder will not be revealed until after a 10-day standstill period.
Once appointed it will engage with the community – but its proposals must remain “substantially similar” to the original bid.
Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter