Demands to immediately reopen Carlisle’s closure-hit Stony Holme Golf Course and Swifts Driving Range have been defeated.

The council-owned course was forced to shut last month after the operator Mack Golf went into voluntary administration.

But the shock closure sparked a community fightback, including a motion from Robert Betton, an independent city councillor for Botcherby, asking the authority to commit to saving the course.

Stony Holme’s captain Mark Thompson also launched an online petition to save the course which garnered more than 800 signatures ahead of Tuesday night’s crunch meeting at the Civic Centre.

But Mr Betton’s motion was voted down, with four independent councillors supporting it.

Council leader Colin Glover insisted that officers were “looking at all potential options” but stopped short of making a commitment to reopen the club.

He said it would cost up to £75,000 to operate the course from November to April and the council had already committed it’s full budget to Mack Golf.

He said: “We know that it’s an extremely frustrating situation especially for members of the club and those who play on a ‘pay to play’ basis.

“If it offers a small consolation, it is equally frustrating to the council after we entered into a 10-year contract. Nevertheless we are in the situation that we find ourselves in.

“The last thing I want to do is go straight into opening the course and then further down the line say ‘no one wants to do this because the costs are so exorbitant’.

“I don’t want to promise something that I can’t deliver.

“But if we can find a way to run the club and do it sustainably then that’s what we should do.”

He said that it wasn’t as straight forward as simply reopening the course.

“Some staff have already found employment elsewhere,” he added.

Earlier in the meeting, Mr Thompson asked if the council had been aware of Mack Golf’s alleged instruction in July to Stony Holme staff to slash costs or be out of a job by Christmas.

But the council leader insisted that the authority had no advanced warning of the troubles facing Mack Golf despite regular meetings with the site manager.

Jack Paton, independent councillor for Botcherby, was among those who implored council chiefs to save the club.

He said: “It’s the only club in the area. It’s well-used by members and a venue for competitions. From a health and wellbeing point of view it’s not just a golf course but a place where people meet and socialise.

“This is one of the best courses in the area and I feel it has been let down.

“We have a duty to the people of Carlisle and surrounding areas to keep the course open and advertise for another operator to take over.”

Mr Paton added that the longer the course was not being used, the more it would deteriorate, leaving an “astronomical” repair bill for the taxpayer.

Mack Golf was one of the UK’s biggest golf operators but it’s financial woes resulted in the closure of nine golf venues across the county including those in Carlisle.

Swifts and Stony Holme Golf Course have been city council municipal assets for 44 years since they first opened in 1974.