Staffordshire bowls clubs are facing closure after being told they must pay council charges of £2,500 a year for the upkeep of their bowling greens.
The eleven clubs include Tunstall Park, which has been operating for more than 100 years.
London Road Bowls club secretary Alan Johnson has claimed that “there is no way” the clubs can afford to pay the money to Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
“The council have put options forward,” Johnson said. “Self management is one of them, meaning that the clubs would maintain their own greens with their own equipment.
“For a good mower with all the attachments, you’re looking at £4,000. On top of that you’ve got your fertilizers for the greens, your top dressings for the greens… all this mounts up.”
Johnson continued: “The other option is alternative suggestions put forward by the clubs. Now, I know for a fact that the greensmen alone cost £2,500 a year. These clubs just cannot afford this sort of money.”
Bowls is particularly popular among the senior residents of Staffordshire. As expected, the reaction to the recent announcements has not been positive.
“There’s anger amongst the bowling greens,” revealed Johnson. “It’s their way of socialising, meeting friends and things like that. All this would be lost.
“Most of the bowlers are 65, 70, or even older than that. And it’s something they look forward to every year, every week. Sometimes they can play up to five times a week. To come to a halt after all the years the clubs have been running is hard to take.”
The clubs under threat will meet with the council in early 2018 to discuss their options. They have until Springtime of next year to come up with a solution.