THE INCH Bowling Club could be facing closure after almost 70 years due to “shocking” rent and maintenance payments to Angus Council.
The increases, agreed by the authority at the end of last year, are to be phased in over five years but Kenneth Marvelley, club president, said the final figures quoted could spell the end of the Inch. In a letter from the council’s estates surveyor, the eventual figure for rental was set at £530 with an additional £15,000 for the continued maintenance by the council of the green and garden areas.
Mr Marvelley said it was just not possible to pass on the rising costs to the club’s 24 members, most of whom are pensioners. He also criticised the council’s handling of the issue, saying that a proposed eight-month consultation has not been carried out as costs were due to rise from the April 1 this year and that the club had not been given breathing space to make alternative arrangements
He said: “There’s been nothing, no correspondence at all apart from this and we’re quite shocked. I’ve asked the council for a breakdown of why maintenance costs £15,000, All we need is for the green to be cut and scarified twice a year and we could get a gardener to do that which wouldn’t cost that amount. It’s a lot of money to cut 50 square metres of green.
“If there are only two clubs left in Montrose then the league structure will go and the bowling community itself would split completely. There would be about 70 people who couldn’t play because the other clubs have waiting lists.”
At the end of last year the council decided to standardise its agreements with bowling clubs after the variety of individual situations regarding rental and maintenance across Angus was highlighted in an official’s report.
The Hillside and Melville clubs, which have no formal agreements with the council and have yet to be contacted, were also included and are now faced levying higher fees from ageing memberships to meet additional costs.
Local SNP councillor Bill Duff, however, is emphatic that the authority cannot continue to bear the cost of subsidising clubs across the county.
He said: “Angus Council can no longer afford to maintain bowling clubs at public expense. The council is trying hard to ensure that all sports clubs who operate on council property are treated in a similar fashion.
“To that end we are attempting to regularise leases and charge a fair amount for the facilities. As part of this change, maintenance fees will be levied if the council maintains the facility. These increased charges will be phased in over several years to allow clubs to adapt to the new regime.
“I have gone back to Kenneth from Inch Bowling Club advising him that he needs to enter into negotiations with Angus Council officers about the period of notice given for the new lease and maintenance charges and agree a suitable schedule.”