Anger as Portsmouth City Council says no to extra bowls club money

Chancellor Philip Hammond holding his red ministerial box outside 11 Downing Street, London, before heading to the House of Commons to deliver his Budget

City Labour MP slams budget for ‘failing Portsmouth’

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BOWLS clubs have been left frustrated after a last-ditch appeal to Portsmouth City Council for funding was turned down.

The authority’s decision to completely withdraw its subsidy for the city’s associations from next year has left them with the choice of either closing down or running themselves.

This has already led two clubs, Drayton & Farlington and Canoe Lake, announcing they will have to shut and five others to plead with the council for a lifeline.

But their requests for a staggered removal of the funding, to allow them to manage their move into becoming small businesses, were turned down.

Andrew Mitchelmore, the treasurer of the Swordsands Bowls Association in Tangier Road and chairman of the Portsmouth Public Bowls Green Forum, said the groups had been left ‘disgruntled and unhappy’ by the council’s refusal to budge.

He said: ‘We believe we need some phased funding or parachute payments during the first three years of the transition period to help support the associations with a possible temporary decline in membership.

‘Havant Borough Council successfully adopted a phased approach to switching their public greens to self-sufficiency. Its bowling sites are now successful and self-sustaining.

‘As part of the transition discussions, with council officers we requested utility costs over a year ago.

‘They have not been provided and cannot be made available until metering systems are in place that can measure water and electricity usage for each individual green.’

Tory regeneration spokesman Luke Stubbs said the council could have found the money to provide transitional funding if it wanted.

‘The Canoe Lake site is a showcase for bowls for locals and tourists,’ he said.

‘Unfortunately, it looks as though this site will have to close for economic reasons. This will be a great shame.

‘It’s disappointing that a bowling green cannot be accommodated within the Canoe Lake regeneration plans. Once it’s gone, I fear it’s gone forever.’

The current leases were implemented 20 years ago and enabled PCC to make park keepers, who managed the greens at that time, redundant.

That job was taken over by association members who acted as stewards and looked after access to bowls for the general public, security of the facilities from mid-morning until dusk and keeping the greens tidy.