Blind bowlers left upset after fees go up in holidays

A GROUP of partially-sighted and blind 10-pin bowlers have spoken of their frustration at a hike in the fee to play during the school holidays.

Friday, 24th February 2017, 5:55 am
Updated Wednesday, 1st March 2017, 9:34 am
From left, Dave Daniels and Irwin, Mat Killeen, Dave Taylor, David Alexander, Matthew Cooper and Mattie and Andrew Hurdle Picture: Ian Hargreaves (170219-1)

The team, which plays in the local bowling league, are upset after Hollywood Bowl at Gunwharf Quays removed any concessionary rates for the half-term break.

Matt Cooper, 23, from Portchester, said: ‘We have never had this before. It’s not a disability issue, they have done this to all the league bowlers, but the fact it affects us makes it worse.

‘It’s not necessarily discriminatory but it does feel like that.’

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Matt, who has played with the team for four years, says the weekly activity is a lifeline for many members as it is a social event and a way to mix with similar people.

He said he fears that the rise in prices would affect their practice time, and that it may discourage people from playing.

He said: ‘The £13 is too much, most of us can’t work. We can’t afford it especially if they decide to impose this during the long summer holidays too.’

Dave Taylor, 53, who is registered blind, from Hilsea, voiced his concerns.

He said: ‘We have been going there for years during the school holidays and we have never had to pay full rate before.

‘A lot of people who are visually impaired can’t work.

‘They go to things like this as it gets them out of the house and mixing with other people.

‘It gives them an opportunity to forget about their problems for a couple of hours. We are all very disappointed by this change.’

A spokeswoman at Hollywood Bowl apologised to the group.

She said: ‘Firstly, we’d like to apologise for any upset caused.

‘We see on a daily basis how much our customers with disabilities enjoy bowling with us, which is why we offer an adult concessionary rate of 50 per cent discount to those with disabilities, and their carers.

‘This rate is available every weekday before 6pm for 48 weeks out of 52, including the summer and Easter holidays and is far higher than the discounts we offer most other customer groups.

‘Unfortunately though, there are certain limited “peak” periods where it is not always possible to offer any concessionary discounts. This doesn’t just apply to the adult concessionary rate available to those with a disability, but also to those available to other adult, family, student and senior groups.

‘Following a change in management, the group was made aware of the updated policy last year, they bowled with us during October half-term and said they were happy to attend during the concessionary rate periods, so we’re genuinely sorry they are frustrated with us.

‘Although we couldn’t offer the concession to them this week, as a gesture of goodwill, we have invited them back in for a free bowling session.’