8:30am Thursday 31st January 2013
By Alexandra Womack
MEMBERS of an indoor bowls club in Yate are furious that the hall they were evicted from last year has remained empty all winter while they have been left out in the cold.
The 300 members of Yate Indoor Bowls Club have had nowhere to play ever since the Circadian Trust, which runs Yate Leisure Centre, gained approval from South Gloucestershire Council to evict them from a large hall in the centre in favour of a gym club moving in.
Many of them have not played bowls since the decision in June 2012 which gave King Edmund Acrogymnastics Club, which has outgrown its base at the Sports Shed on Armstrong Way, the green light to move into the vacated hall.
In September, the Gazette reported how the gym club insisted it was ‘all systems go’ despite no visual signs of a refurbishment of the hall and this week the facility was still empty.
Peter Webb, chairman of the bowls club, said this week: "It is now six months since the council committee gave the go-ahead. But the hall is still not being used and we want to know what is going on.
"Something is not right and with all the fuss and bother about the decision, we would like to know the situation."
Most club members refused to travel to Thornbury Leisure Centre, where the number of bowling rinks is being increased, because many are elderly and do not drive or fear driving on country lanes late at night.
Added Mr Webb: "The really galling thing is we could have been using that hall this winter.
"We were paying £30,000 a year to the Circadian Trust so how much revenue has been lost? We just want to know what the hell is going on."
Mark Thorne, director of King Edmunds gym club, said they were still awaiting the completion of a lease before being able to move into the leisure centre.
"We are ready and waiting," he said. "But in hindsight, the bowls club could have had another season in the leisure centre.
"We should have been in there by now and reaping the benefits from the Olympic legacy to keep the momentum going. There is no denying it has been frustrating but we will end up in there, that is 110 per cent definite, and we will provide Yate with a fantastic gymnastics facility."
The bowls club, which is due to celebrate its 25th anniversary next year, is actively searching for a new home to play the winter season this year in Yate.
Circadian Trust is the not-for-profit social enterprise that runs all the leisure centres in South Gloucestershire, including Yate.
Craig Smart, Circadian Trust operations director, said: “We are working closely with South Gloucestershire Council to ensure the necessary legal documentation is completed as quickly as possible and are also in regular contact with King Edmund Acrogymnastics Club to ensure they can take up residence once this process is finalised.
“As part of the original plan, the refurbishment at Thornbury Leisure Centre bowls hall has been completed and there has been an increase in people playing bowls at the centre as a result.”
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