SCRAPPED PROPOSAL: Council’s bowling greens U-turn could be ‘new start’ for the sport in Leeds
The decision to cancel plans to close half of Leeds’s council-maintained bowling greens has been welcomed by both campaigners and opposition councillors in the city.
As part of early plans for next year’s Leeds City Council budget, the council had proposed reducing the number of bowling greens from 62 to 31, in an attempt to save £83,000 per year.
But, following consultation with the public, the council has chosen to scrap the proposals and instead increase the price of a season ticket from £31 to £40-a-year for each player.
Steve Olivant, Secretary of the Leeds Crown Green Bowls Association , was elated with the decision, and hopes it can be a new start for the sport in Leeds.
He said: “£40 is still reasonable – it works out at about 90p a week (per person). When you think about the money the council said it would need to save, I think we got a good deal.
“All along, we argued about the benefits of the physical and social interaction it brings. I don’t know why we have had a U-turn but it is welcome.”
Mr Olivant said the decision should be seen as a perfect opportunity to get more people into the sport once Covid-19 lockdown rules have been lifted.
He added: “As it stands, I don’t think the summer season will start in April, but it depends on how the lockdown goes.
“I have been speaking to a couple of clubs – once we get going again, we are planning to hold open days. We are hoping to recruit some more participants and pushing the game forward.
“It’s like a new start, really – but then again, I think 99 per cent of our members will be rushing to get in once it opens again!”
The decision has also received support from members of Leeds City Council.
Coun Paul Wadsworth (Con), the council’s opposition spokesperson for environmental services, said: “I welcome this decision, which was informed by all the input received from residents across the city who told the council clearly how important their bowling greens are. My group called for the reversal of this proposal from the outset.
“I recognise the council faces a very real budget challenge, but the savings provided through the proposals were outweighed by all the benefits the bowling greens provided to their local communities. Listening to residents, I heard how the greens were enjoyed in so many different ways, from places to relax, to exercise, or just to meet friends new and old.
“I’d like to thank all those residents who added their voice to this consultation and helped shape these proposals, and I look forward to seeing the bowling greens re-open in the future.”
The decision forms part of plans for Leeds City Council to plug a £119m budget deficit for the coming year. The report will considered by the council’s Executive Board on Wednesday February 10 followed by the debate at full council on Wednesday February 24.
Richard Beecham, Local Democracy Reporter
Watch the channel on TV