A NEWPORT bowls centre was forced to close after public health chiefs found e.coli bacteria on the premises.

For years water has been seeping in through the walls of the Newport Indoor Bowls Centre in the Glebelands, but recently the problem worsened, flooding ditches around the bowling rinks.

Newport Indoor Bowling Association, which runs the centre, called in the council, whose environmental health officers found low levels of e.coli bacteria contamination.

E.coli bacteria lives in the lower intestines of mammals, and can cause various infections.

Although the bacteria found was not the dangerous Verotoxin strain of e.coli, the committee decided to close the club as a precaution.

The bacteria was killed off using a special spray and the ditches around the bowling rinks were covered with a membrane to protect users of the facility.

The club re-opened last week after a council risk assessment, and all rinks have been fitted with hand-gel dispensers to protect players against infection.

But members are concerned for the club's future.

Treasurer John Letts said: "We think it is safe to reopen now because not a lot of people use it in the summer months.

"But we have told the council we won't be able to operate like this in the winter when it's a lot busier.

"The problem needs to be sorted out. We just want to keep the club going."

Newport council's cabinet member for culture and recreation, councillor Ron Jones, said environmental health officers found low level contamination, probably caused by decaying vegetation entering ground water.

He said: "The presence of e.coli bacteria at a low level was found; however, there were no indications of the presence of the dangerous Verotoxin strain of e..coli."

"We have appointed consultants who are currently working on site to identify the source of the seepage and recommend a long-term solution."

Newport Indoor Bowls Centre first opened in September 1992.

It runs Summer and Winter leagues and provides a training venue for beginners.

Two of its eight indoor bowling rinks are available for public use at all times.