BUSINESS leaders have joined Worthing Borough Council head Paul Yallop in condemning “disastrous” plans to relocate the prestigious National Men’s bowling championships from Worthing.
The move, which has been proposed by Bowls England, that has held the event in West Sussex since 1974, would stand to lose the area’s vital tourism economy a substantial sum of up to £1million.
Dismayed by the situation, borough council leader Mr Yallop claimed Worthing’s failed bid to stage the entire championships (including the women’s tournament already at Leamington Spa), was “not considered on a level playing field”.
He raised a catalogue of concerns over a feasibility study carried out by Bowls England to examine other locations, which excluded Worthing on the basis it did not fit its revised basic criteria of being a central site. It was subsequently allowed a final written offer, which proposed to host the event for another 25 years, that was rejected by Bowls England.
Mr Yallop said: “I had always thought sport was played on a level field, or in this case bowling green. However, it is disappointing that Worthing’s attempt to bid on the same basis as Leamington Spa was disallowed by Bowls England.
“Had they been prepared to consider a same venue men’s and ladies championship in Worthing they would have received sponsorship of £30,000 per annum, plus a saving of a further £10,000 in the green fees charged for the ladies championship at Leamington. A total of saving of £40,000 per year which would go a long way towards the members’ costs for the extra journey south. On top of this they would save what must be a very substantial cost in relocating their head office, together with no need for a satellite office in Leamington.”
It is widely expected the planned move will be rubber-stamped at a national meeting next month. This comes despite considerable opposition from Worthing residents, who have given near unanimous support for maintaining it and ensuring the town’s status as the “home of English bowls”.
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