Bowling clubs in Montrose and Hillside may face closure

Melville Bowling Club may face closure along with Inch and Hillside bowling clubs if Angus Council brings in new maitainence charges for them
Melville Bowling Club may face closure along with Inch and Hillside bowling clubs if Angus Council brings in new maitainence charges for them

Three bowling clubs in Montrose and Hillside could face closure if Angus Council brings in new maintenance charges.

The council wants Melville, Inch and Hillside bowling clubs to pay for the upkeep of their greens and clubhouses to bring them in line with the other seven council-owned bowling greens in Angus.

But with each club having less than 30 members, the increased costs could mean closure.

Angus Council estimates the cost of the maintenance of cutting grass, attending to the shrub beds, summer bedding and cutting the hedges for each club is around £15,000 per year.

The council also estimates that if it no longer maintains the greens there will be a saving of around £45,000 per year.

Hazel Campbell, of Melville Bowling, said: “We’re an easy target for cutting costs. We’re at the bottom of the scale.

“If the council had looked at how the clubs function and our finances, they would have realised it was impossible and unrealistic for us to pay that much. It would cost us around £5,000 each year just to maintain the grounds.

“The clubs members are mainly pensioners and it is a chance for them to be active, but it is also very social. We like to stop halfway through for a cup of tea.”

The proposal put forward by the council was discussed at a corporate services committee meeting last week, where it was decided that other alternatives would be developed.

Councillors have arranged a meeting today (October 16) with members from the bowling clubs to see if an “amicable” decision can be reached.

Councillor Donald Morrison, convenor for neighbourhood services, said: “I feel we shouldn’t just close the door on these clubs.

“This has been an anomaly, which is not by any fault of the bowling clubs. It has been in the background, but with costs being cut, it has come to the foreground.

“The council needs to find out what the breakdown of the their costs is.

“We need to start talking and have communication between the council and the clubs.”

He added: “Taxpayers money is currently paying for the running of these clubs. We need to make some difficult decisions but it is important that we come to amicable decisions.

“We have got time to reach a decision, the rents posed wouldn’t come into place until next year.”

Hazel Campbell continued: “We need to be realistic about the costs but we are probably not going to survive if we are fighting for each bowling club.”

She added that all three clubs may have to join together as one and that changes need to be made to gain interest in the clubs for them to be able to recruit new members.

She said: “We need to change, teenagers need to be able to come and play in their jeans and t-shirts.”

Councillor David May is against the new maintenance charges and rent for the sports clubs. He said bringing them in would be “putting a gun to the heads of the bowling clubs”.

Mr May said: “These proposals have been handled badly by the council and the consultation was a sham.

“Bowling is an activity for mainly the elderly, and having been to all the clubs in Montrose, many of the people I have listened to are on the basic state pension. They simply cannot afford an increase of more than £15,000 from what they pay already of about £700.

“What was proposed by the council would have had a hugely adverse affect on their quality of life.”