Barking and Dagenham bowls clubs fear closure over council rent hike

Old Dagenham Bowls Club

Old Dagenham Bowls Club - Credit: Archant

The battle between the Barking and Dagenham’s four bowls clubs and the council has reared its head again with the council continuing to demand a doubling of rental prices on the bowling greens.

As bowls season kicks off this month, secretary of Old Dagenham Park Bowls Club Carole Hager says they face closure by this September if the council does not back down.

Her club currently pays £4,445 for renting the green during the five-month bowls season, but this is being hiked up to £9,588.

Elsewhere, Parsloes Park Bowls Club has already folded, and clubs in St Chad’s, Dagenham Central and Barking parks face the same fate.

The clubs across the borough have more than 250 members. At the Old Dagenham Park club there are 62 members aged from the late 50s up to the 90s who each pay £80 annual membership and £2 for every game they play.

Barking and Dagenham Council want the clubs to either pay the increased fee or take over the responsibility for maintaining the greens, which Carole said would involve entering a legal lease, getting insurance and employing contractors to maintain the green.

She said: “We are elderly people trying to have a little bit of fun and exercise but we can’t possibly take on that kind of responsibility. It isn’t fair.

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“I know they are short of money and other things are more important than bowls but for the elderly it is a way of getting out and making friends.

“If they insist on charging us that £9,000 this season we won’t be here next year.”

A council spokesperson said: “The old charge which bowls clubs paid to hire greens and pavilions was far less than what they cost the council to maintain.

“Unfortunately because of the savings the council has to make we are not able to carry on subsidising bowls clubs in this way.”

The Old Dagenham Park Bowls Club will meet with the council on Friday 19 to argue their case.