Bowls players vow to ‘fight’ clubs at risk

Bowls club meeting  3 SUS-141013-140557001
Bowls club meeting 3 SUS-141013-140557001

BOWLS CLUB members said they will ‘fight to the end’ to stop the council from closing their facilities at a meeting held this week.

More than 100 members of Field Place Bowls Club and West Tarring Bowls Club joined forces in a meeting at Field Place Barn on Monday to discuss Worthing Borough Council’s proposal to close the two greens at Field Place, leaving only one open for the avid bowlers.

West Tarring president David Tomalin, 79, said the council had promised to consult members on its report. However, he claimed the council had failed to do so before submitting its proposal.

The council told the Herald it had held a meeting with representatives of both clubs last week where it proposed to close two greens, retain one, transfer some bowling to Beach House Park, and reduce club room space at Field Place.

Mr Tomalin said the news was ‘pretty shocking’. “Two of the three greens they own will be closed, leaving all of us with only one green to play on,” he said.

“The club facilities will also be withdrawn with immediate effect.

“We want to keep two greens and two facilities.”

Mr Tomalin said the clubs’ room facilities is where equipment is stored, meetings held and other clubs entertained - losing it would ‘kill the heart and soul of the club’.

“We will not take this lying down. We will fight them and we will win,” he added.

President of Field Place, Bill Porter, 68, said if the greens were closed it would have a knock-on effect for other clubs in the area.

Wendy Davis of Field Place Ladies Club enjoyed great success at the recent national competition.

She said: “This is a very sad day. I have been a member of this club for 36 years. I find it upsetting that some people in an office can come and have a look, but not visit the club and its members, and then decide to get rid of all this.

“I’m a member of one of the most successful clubs in Sussex, but in one fell swoop of a pen it could all go.”

Another member, Stan Blake, said: “If we’re not playing here, I’m sure half of us will be at the doctors’ surgery dying to get a cure for boredom.”

West Tarring is set to celebrate its 90th anniversary this year, but Mr Tomalin said it would be a sad occasion.

UKIP Worthing borough councillor Charles James said: “It does seem ludicrous that they will take away your facilities. You can’t function without them, so bringing this into the equation is like chopping your feet off.”

A borough council spokesperson said there was an over-provision at Field Place, but it would take members’ feedback into consideration. Although the clubs understand - to a degree - that there is over-provision at Field Place, the reduction of three greens to one was a difficult proposition for the clubs to accept.

“Transfer to Beach House Park was not seen as an attractive alternative and concern was also raised about the reduction in club room facilities.

“A report is currently being drafted on the Open Spaces Review for consideration at a future Worthing’s Cabinet and agree an Action Plan.”

Members will be attending Tuesday’s full council meeting at Worthing Town Hall, 6.30pm, to raise their concerns.