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Barking and Dagenham bowling clubs face closure in hike row

PUBLISHED: 15:00 23 April 2012

Talks: Roy Blane, of St Chad's Bowls Club, says the clubs are discussing the plans with the council

Talks: Roy Blane, of St Chad's Bowls Club, says the clubs are discussing the plans with the council

Archant

Bowling clubs catering for hundreds of pensioners could face closure under plans to more than double their fees.

The five outdoor clubs in parks across the borough have more than 250 members.

Barking and Dagenham Council has unveiled proposals to increase their annual fees from around £5,300 to £11,500 next year as part of budget cuts.

The former secretary of Dagenham Central Bowls Club, Brian Ward, 71, said individual fees could go up from around £75 to £150 a year.

He warned pensioners would not be able to pay and clubs may fold.

Old Dagenham Park Bowls Club said all five clubs were “under threat”.

Mr Ward, of Warley Avenue, Dagenham, said: “They’re talking about doubling the fees. If they do, pensioners probably won’t be able to cough it up.

“If they do close us down they will not only put us out of recreation but all the clubs who come to us.”

A statement on the Old Dagenham Park Bowls Club website reads: “If these increases go ahead, especially regarding the 2013 season, all five clubs will have to close.

“Once again hitting the elderly and vulnerable.”

Dagenham Central Bowls Club at Central Park in Wood Lane, Parsloes Bowls Club at Parsloes Park, Dagenham, and Barking Park Bowls Club in Longbridge Road have around 30 members each, Mr Ward said.

St Chad’s Bowls Club in St Chad’s Park, Alexandra Road, Chadwell Heath, has around 100 members and Old Dagenham Park Bowls Club in Siviter Way has about 60 members.

Roy Blane, 64, match secretary of St Chad’s Bowls Club, said: “All five clubs are in discussions with the council.

“Until we get feedback, we are in no man’s land.”

Barking and Dagenham Council said the increases would be phased in, rising by an extra £2,100 when the season begins at the end of this month and then to between £9,500 and £11,500 in 2013/14 depending on whether the council’s watering system is used on the greens.

The council added it had consulted with Sport England and stressed the clubs could avoid the fees by maintaining the greens themselves with an alternative provider.

A spokesman said: “Currently the charges which bowls clubs pay for hire of greens and pavilions are much less than the cost which the council incurs to maintain those facilities.

“Because of the level of savings which the council has to make, it is very difficult to continue to subsidise bowls clubs in this way.”


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