Review of council bowling greens’ set to be discussed

A proposed new way forward regarding the management of Leeds City Council outdoor crown green bowling sites is to be discussed by senior councillors next week.

This follows a public consultation earlier this year and the establishment of a working group, including crown green bowling association representatives, which looked to jointly agree how provision could be delivered in a sustainable manner in the future, whilst at the same time allow the council to tackle a current net subsidy in service provision for outdoor bowls of £245k each year.

As part of plans submitted to the meeting of the council’s Executive Board on Wednesday 9 October, a range of measures have been proposed to meet this challenge.

This includes over a four-year-period from 2014-2015 the introduction of a crown green bowl season ticket, beginning at £25 in the first year, which will allow bowlers to play on any council summer or winter green from April 1st to March 31st. The revised proposals will also see the introduction of a junior concession to encourage an increase in participation.

It has also been agreed with the bowling associations that clubs will begin to cover the cost of spending on gas and electricity in bowling pavilions, which is currently paid for by the council at a cost £30k per annum, along with the closure of six greens at five locations with multiple green sites from March 2014. Recommended for closure are sites at Potternewton Park, Harehills, Cranmore and Western Flatts Park which will each lose one green, with Woodhouse Moor Park losing two.

By introducing these proposals and at the same time preserving the council’s commitment to maintain the remaining greens throughout the city, it is estimated that the council will reduce its subsidy towards the provision of crown green bowling facilities by £114k by the end of 2017/2018.

Councillor Mark Dobson, Leeds City Council’s executive member for the environment said:

“We have worked extremely hard through both a public consultation and a working group, which included Leeds bowling association representatives, to find a new way forward regarding how our outdoor bowling greens are managed in the future.

“With the very difficult financial challenge currently faced by the council and a current £245k subsidy in our city’s bowling greens, we simply could not continue as before and these proposals, I believe, set out a measured way in how we should proceed.

“One of our key aims throughout this process has been to keep any price increases to bowlers as low as possible. I therefore welcome the proposal, which will see incremental rises introduced over a four-year-period as part of a new yearly season ticket which will keep the costs to bowlers to an absolute minimum.

“On a final note, I would like to thank the bowling green associations and their members for the constructive way they have approached these discussions. This process has not been easy, and their valued contributions have played a pivotal part in the recommendations we have asked Executive Board members to support.”

Andrew Dewhirst, Chairman of Leeds and District Crown Green Bowling Association and Gordon Longfellow from the Wharfedale Clubs Bowls Trust said:

“Officers from Leeds and District Crown Green Bowling Association, along with colleagues from other associations, have worked closely with both officers from Leeds City Council and Councillor Dobson to establish this new way forward for crown green bowling in the city.

“Whilst some difficult discussions have had to be undertaken to arrive at this point, we are confident that the proposals being put forward to the council’s Executive Board for consideration will, if approved, put our sport on a much more sustainable and secure footing for the future.”

Notes to editors:

For more information on the crown bowling greens Executive board paper, please see: http://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/documents/s102895/Bowling%20Cover%20Report%20270913.pdf

For media enquiries, please contact;

Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578

Email: colin.dickinson@leeds.gov.uk