CONCERN is growing for the future of Worthing’s tenpin bowling alley.
People who use the centre fear the facility, which has been in the town for about 45 years, could be lost if current lease negotiations between Worthing Borough Council and AMF Bowling are not successful.
The lease on the Marine Parade premises expires in 2011 and bowling fans fear the council plans to increase the rent charged for a new lease by 300 per cent.
Avid bowler Greg Brown, of Shermanbury Road, Worthing, is calling on other people who use the facility to support his campaign to save the bowling alley.
He said: “Yes, the centre is a commercial operation but it should also be seen as a civic amenity, in its broadest terms, for the people of Worthing.
“If it was simply a case the town couldn’t afford it, we could all understand the council’s attitude, but it is not as if it costs the town anything.
“Whatever rent is received from the premises goes towards providing other much-needed services.
“More importantly, for the future, the council must make provision for alternate premises, to keep this centre and all it stands for alive.
“Surely, with all the various redevelopment and regeneration projects envisaged for the town this must be included?
“The centre is a net contributor to the local economy, the social life of the town and consequently the well-being of townspeople – it must not be allowed to disappear.”
Foster carer Judy Bowers, 58, has taken many of her foster children to the bowling alley, which she described as a “vital” resource for the town.
Her 17-year-old foster son, who has special educational needs, attends the Worthing Youth Bowling team session every Saturday morning.
Judy, of Irene Avenue, Lancing, said: “This has become a very important part of his life, he mixes with a fantastic group of young people, some of whom have learning disabilities and some not, but when they are bowling, there is no divide, they are led by a dedicated team of volunteers, who are also avid bowlers.
“The bowling alley is a safe place for teenagers and young people to go to and spend quality time with their friends.”
Council leader Paul Yallop said: “While I understand the council has requested an increase in rent, one needs to be aware the rent currently received by the council was last reviewed 20 years ago.
“As elected representatives of Worthing residents, it is our duty to ensure that taxpayers receive fair value for their assets.
“In this instance, the council is dealing with the rent review on a commercial basis.”