Council must look again at how to help bowlers

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T here is no doubt that members of a Portsmouth bowling club face a fierce battle just to make sure that their group survives.

And the challenge facing the Cosham Park Bowling Club is certainly being mirrored at other sports organisations in the area.

It has been caused because local authorities say they have no choice but to drastically tighten and, in some cases, stop altogether the cash help they give to such clubs.

At Cosham, that will drive a hole below the waterline in the finances of an organisation that has provided so much for so many for almost 80 years.

Portsmouth City Council budget cuts will force the club to become self-sufficient from April, 2013.

Few if any of the club’s members will begrudge paying subscriptions to help pay for their pastime.

But the loss of direct and continuing council support means that, unless an alternative revenue stream can be found, those payments will surely have to be considerable just to keep the club’s facilities at their present level.

We shouldn’t forget that members of the club are council tax payers, but now they are being told they can have nothing back from that for their own particular pastime.

And bowling and similar sports help keep people active and healthy, so a bowls club could to a degree be viewed as a public investment that helps prevent some people needing expensive treatment from the NHS.

All in all, it is a sorry state of affairs when our local councils are pulling the plug on organisations that have stood the test of time and are delivering valuable leisure and social opportunities for people.

We acknowledge that there is no bottomless pot of money and that at the moment public spending is having to be reined in.

But we repeat the challenge to councillors to find innovative ways of continuing to give long-term help to groups such as the Cosham Park Bowling Club.

We hope too that our reporting of the club’s difficulties might lead to a fresh offer of help from another source.