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Council rent hike kills off 100-year-old Barking bowls club

PUBLISHED: 09:11 11 July 2013 | UPDATED: 09:23 11 July 2013

Alf Groves,  president, Pam Price, Brian Price, Jim Aiton and Bob Jarrold

Alf Groves, president, Pam Price, Brian Price, Jim Aiton and Bob Jarrold

Archant

Bowls players are distraught at the prospect of losing their club as a sharp rise in rent costs has forced them to close after more than 100 years.

Founded about 1905, Barking Borough Bowls Club, Barking Park, Longbridge Road, has recently seen council rates for maintaining its outdoor green almost double from about £5,500 to more than £9,500 a year.

The club is to fold at the end of July and follows the closure of Parsloes Park Bowls Club last year.

“The social consequences of these decisions are no longer considered,” said Alf Groves, 85, who joined the club in 1976. “There’s a possibility that in a couple of years time there will not be a bowling club in Barking and Dagenham.”

He added: “Bowls is one of the best and most therapeutic games there is. You are out in fresh air in convivial company and you’re exercising every muscle by bowling.”

He also claimed the game has helped his physical recovery following a stroke 18 months ago.

Bob Jarrold, the oldest of the club’s 28 members at 89, said: “I feel really upset that the club is to close.

“Bowls is the only thing I can do in summer to get fresh air and exercise. Our past time will be lost if the club closes.”

A council spokesman said: “The council is sorry to hear that the financial position of Barking Borough Bowls Club means it cannot continue to operate.

“The new charges represent the full cost of maintaining the greens. Previously clubs had paid a much lower rate, but due to the significant savings which the council has to make, it is no longer possible to subsidise bowls clubs in this way.”

Old Dagenham Park Bowls Club is also facing the threat of closure due to the higher fees. There are three remaining outdoor clubs in the borough.


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