Havant bowling club set to close over huge rent hike

HOME Havant Indoor Bowling Club is based a t Havant Leisure Centre. Picture: Paul Jacobs (060599-5)
HOME Havant Indoor Bowling Club is based a t Havant Leisure Centre. Picture: Paul Jacobs (060599-5)

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ALMOST 300 people could lose their indoor bowling hall because of a rent hike.

Havant Indoor Bowling Club has been a popular fixture since 1987 when the council built an indoor green at Havant Leisure Centre.

But now the facility is facing closure.

The club was transferred to Horizon Leisure Centres, a charitable trust, in 2003 and since then the trust has been subsidising the club’s rent payments.

Horizon’s management have said they can no longer provide a discount.

The rent is set to go up from around £54,000 a year to over £80,000 – a figure the club says it cannot afford.

Richard Galloway, chairman of the trustees at the club, said: ‘At the moment it looks like we will be closing.

‘The worst case scenario is it could be the end of the month, it could be later.

‘We could pay the rent for a couple of months which might give us a bit more time to think about the future.

‘We have got a bowling club with 300 members with regular bowling activities going on day to day and just to bring that to a halt is a major task.’

Mr Galloway added: ‘It’s a sad day. It’s a bitter pill for me personally to swallow.

‘I have been working for several years to keep it going.’

Club member Ron Smith, 82, from Bedhampton, said: ‘It’s the only exercise we really get.

‘When you do that three times a week, it’s really keeping us out of the hands of the doctor.’

Howard Broad, Horizon’s chief executive, said: ‘Horizon have given the club every opportunity and support over eight long years to help them turn their fortunes around – and it’s not been possible.

‘The club were very proud to have 750 members at one time.

‘We have been told recently that membership is 280 and is declining still. It’s making it very difficult for the club to pay its way and survive because of the continued decline in its membership. It’s very sad and disappointing.’

Other options are being looked at to maximise usage of the hall.