Bowls club loses battle to keep playing in Yate
A BOWLS club is preparing to meet for the final time after South Gloucestershire Council sealed its fate by allowing a private organisation to force its 300 members out of Yate Leisure Centre.
At the inaugural meeting of the council’s new communities committee last Wednesday night, Circadian Trust, which runs all of the district’s leisure centres, was given the go ahead to increase the amount of space its sub-leases to sports clubs.
The decision means the trust will implement its proposal to move King Edmund Acrogymnastics Club, which has outgrown its current facilities at the Sports Shed on Armstrong Way, into Yate Leisure Centre but it signals the end of Yate Indoor Bowls Club’s 24-year history.
Bowlers refuse to travel to Thornbury, where the number of bowling rinks will be increased, and claim the decision is ‘part-privatisation’ of Yate Leisure Centre.
Chairman Peter Webb told the Gazette: "We are very disappointed and very said.
"Next year was going to be our 25th anniversary but none of the committee will stand now so that is it, the club will fold." Member Maureen Morgan, from Chipping Sodbury, said people with disabilities and the elderly would be left without any leisure activities in Yate.
"Young people can do a whole variety of sports but we can’t use a gym," she said. "We have people in wheelchairs and blind people playing bowls. Many of us don’t have transport so what are they going to do now?"
Club spokesman Ken Maynard had pleaded with councillors to vote with their hearts and safeguard the future of bowls in Yate.
"Please do what you actually feel is right for Yate residents, who may see this as part-privatisation of the leisure centre."
But councillors unanimously agreed to grant Circadian Trust greater freedoms without reviewing the bowls club’s position.
Said Cllr Shirley Holloway (Lib Dem, Thornbury): "This has become a very emotive issue. Sadly it has appeared to be bowls versus gym but that is not the issue.
"The result of our decision will affect those clubs but really we are talking about the future of Circadian Trust and its profitability."
Cllr Heather Goddard (Con, Hanham) added: "They have to get on with the job we have given them and I support them all the way."
Mark Crutchley, trust chief executive, said all activities were reviewed regularly.
"Bowlers are included in that and we are in a position where numbers are static or declining and we have to take action."
Mark Thorne, co-director of the gym club, said members were excited at the prospect of moving into their new base by the end of July.
"We do sympathise with the bowlers but we are very excited about moving in while the Olympics are on," he said.
The club will change its name to Yate International Gym Club.
Bowlers hold their final meeting on Wednesday, July 11 (7.30pm) at Yate Outdoor Bowls Club on Sunnyside Lane.