Fears for Cosham Bowling Club’s future as funding is cut

WORRIED Members of the Cosham Park Women's Bowling Club, from left, Dora Newnham, Maureen Bryant, Sandra Briggs, Trish Walters, Mary Collins, Ann Wade, Jean Wade, Jeanette Davies and Pat Jordan.  Picture: Allan Hutchings (120147-665)
WORRIED Members of the Cosham Park Women's Bowling Club, from left, Dora Newnham, Maureen Bryant, Sandra Briggs, Trish Walters, Mary Collins, Ann Wade, Jean Wade, Jeanette Davies and Pat Jordan. Picture: Allan Hutchings (120147-665)
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HEARTFELT pleas for help have been made by members of a Cosham bowling association who say they face a bleak future.

Cosham Park Bowling Club, in Northern Road, has provided immaculate greens for keen players since 1934.

But Portsmouth City Council budget cuts will force it to become self-sufficient from April next year.

Club member Sandra Briggs fears the decision to cut bowls provision across the city will be a huge blow because the council spent nearly £20,000 a year maintaining its two greens.

She said that the cuts could force the club to increase its annual memberships to £100 from 2013 to cover maintenance costs.

At the moment, a man’s membership is £15 and the cost for women is £12.50.

Mrs Briggs said: ‘The council has gone about this in the wrong way. We would love to run our own club but it’s going to be very expensive.

‘A lot of people who play in Portsmouth do it to keep fit – walking up and down the green is great exercise.

‘We won’t be able to cover the cost of two greens.’

She said the club would look to negotiate deals with contractors to help maintain the green and pavilion.

Vandals have hit the club’s greens and pavilion in the past, but members have been quoted an estimated £23,827 by the council to place a security fence around the surface.

It would cost £17,038 to put up a fence around one green, according to council figures.

Mrs Briggs believes attracting younger members to the club could help ensure its future.

Bowls player and former committee member Reid Wilcockson added: ‘I accept the council has financial constraints but it’s a beautiful area with a lovely atmosphere.

‘If we don’t do something now it will be lost forever.’

The authority’s parks and recreation manager Seamus Mayer said the cuts were down to budget pressures.

He said: ‘It is our belief, subsequently acknowledged by clubs, that there is over-provision of bowls facilities, so some rationalisation would reduce costs.

‘Clubs could have members who would be happy to carry out some tasks as volunteers.

‘There will be an officer to give advice regarding the maintenance of the greens and buildings, and some initial financial support for building maintenance up to a total of £86,000.’

If you can help, contact club president Shelagh Clarke on (023) 9237 2574.