A right of way has erupted in one of Britain’s swankiest postcodes after council seized and then closed a crazy golf course.
Sandbanks Crazy Golf in Poole – a favorite of local residents of footy heroes Harry and Jamie Redknapp – has been closed for safety reasons.
Outgoing operator Tony Unsworth, 70, built the course in 2003 but has now been hunted by Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council (BCP).
It comes just weeks before the bumper Easter season when thousands turn up and play 18 holes in the exclusive Dorset area – where homes sell for an average of £1.2million.
The tee-off owner has accused council officials of making a ‘power grab’ on the crazy golf course after he refused to renew his lease.
The council has taken over management of the lucrative business to carry out ‘safety upgrades’ and promises to reopen it by summer.
Mr Unsworth, who ran the attraction with his wife, described the decision as a ‘kick in the teeth’.
He said: “When we decided to build the site, we had to fight like hell to get planning permission.
“I knew it was going to happen but I tried to argue with them.
“They see someone who’s done something right and they think ‘Oh, throw him out – we’ll have this.'”
Fans of the Poole Harbor course – which is one of the county’s most popular attractions – fear prices will skyrocket when it reopens.
Concerns follow the council’s takeover of Smuggler’s Cove – another crazy golf course in Bournemouth – prices have since skyrocketed.
While in 2018 the local council took over running a popular miniature railway in Poole Park, the trains never ran again.
Vikki Slade, a local councilor and mother of four, said she was “horrified” to hear of the closure.
When she asked officials why they chose not to renew Mr Unsworth’s lease, she said she was told they had identified crazy golf as a “business opportunity”.
She said: “It seems to be about the over-commercialization of traditional beach activities.
“It feels like they’re exploiting everything they have to make as much money as possible.”
A BCP Council spokesperson said: “The lease agreement to operate Sandbanks Mini Golf recently expired, and the decision not to renew has been communicated to the outgoing tenant with the appropriate notice period.
“The course will reopen before the main summer season, once some essential safety and improvement work has been completed and will be operated directly by the BCP Council.
“This will provide local ratepayers with a financial return and facilitate longer-term investment options. Updates of work in progress will be posted on the council’s website and social media account.”
Harry Redknapp lives in a £10m house near the course.