THE sport of outdoor bowls in Newport is under threat, according to the president of the city’s bowling association, after the city council announced it is looking to shut two greens.
Five clubs based at Caerleon and Glebelands bowling pavilions have been given a week to decide whether they want to take over the running and maintenance of the sites, or move.
The council, which is looking at shutting the two pavilions, says it can no longer subsidise the sport, saying it costs it £96,000 a year.
Meanwhile, the council is proposing to almost double season ticket fees – from £80 a season to £150, and from £48 to £90 for concessions.
It says the changes, which could save £45,508, will still leave council-supported bowling greens at Beechwood Park and two at Belle Vue Park. Officers say bowling facilities have not been working to their full capacity.
But Russell Morgan, president of the Newport Bowling Association, said: “They are pricing people out of it.”
An alternative plan of making all greens self-managed is also being looked at.
There are currently five bowls clubs based at the Glebelands pavilion and two at the Caerleon pavilion.
There are already four at the Belle Vue greens, and three at Beechwood Park.
A lease would be drawn up with an association representing the clubs for the the remaining Beechwood and Belle Vue greens, which would be controlled by the council.
Ron Whitehead, secretary of St Julians Bowls Club based at Glebelands pavilion, said his club was told Tuesday and asked to make a decision by next Tuesday.
He said: “At the moment we’re in shock, we’re very angry. They have given us a week. We’re very unhappy as to howit’s been handled.”
A meeting will be held to discuss the issue at the Glebelands bowling pavilion on Monday at 7pm.
‘No way’ subsidies can stay
CABINET member for leisure and culture Debbie Wilcox said the council could not continue to subsidise the game of bowls as it has.
She said: “It is important that we support bowling in the city, but there is no way we can continue this considerable level of investment.”
A spokeswoman for the council said teams affected had been given a week to give initial consideration as “to whether they would prefer to relocate to another council bowling facility, explore options with a noncouncil- run facility, or look to take over the management and maintenance of the facility.”
She said it was appreciated this was a short timescale, but with the new season starting in April, the authority wanted to ensure it could accommodate everyone’s wishes by then.
Cefn Wood Bowling Club, in Rogerstone, went to selfmanagement in 2010.
The council is considering the cuts amid the squeeze on public funding from Westminster.
But the moves were not part of the 2013/14 budget consultation.