Plea from angry bowlers for replacement indoor facility

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BOWLING enthusiasts will tomorrow urge a Yorkshire council to rethink a decision not to provide an indoor facility for them in a new sports centre.

Bowlers across Huddersfield were angered earlier this year by a decision by senior Labour councillors on Kirklees Council to drop plans for an indoor bowls facility at the town’s new leisure centre, which is currently under construction.

The new facility is a replacement for the existing Huddersfield Sports Centre which does have an indoor bowling green.

Bowlers, backed by opposition councillors, said the decision was made without proper consultation and went against previous promises.

Tomorrow afternoon a special meeting of a scrutiny panel will hear evidence from bowlers who are urging an 11th-hour re-think.

They are being supported by Liberal Democrats, including Councillor Cahal Burke who said the council claim that new facility will be “bigger and better” now looked hollow.

“Council facilities should be for everybody, from all walks of life, young and old.”

He said the Labour leadership was “out of touch” and had failed to consult the public.

“Bowlers have been betrayed and let down massively. They had prepared for the move and had secured sponsorship.”

The panel will consider the evidence after the July decision by Cabinet ‘called in’ for review.

The scrutiny panel does not have the power to overturn the decision but can recommend that the Cabinet has a change of mind.

In July, the council explained that the decision to drop the bowling facility was made to ensure the new leisure centre had enough space for the growing numbers of fitness facility users.

A council spokesman said it had a duty to maximise the number of people using the new leisure centre.

“We understand that some people will be left disappointed, but our aim is to make sure that the new leisure centre is used by as many people as possible over the years to come.”

The spokesman said the bowling area in the current sports centre is “under-used, with less than 8,500 customer visits recorded during the 2013-14 season against a total number of customer visits to the sports centre of well over 600,000.”

“Creating another indoor bowls area at the new centre, which would operate for approximately six months of the year, but take up a large space within the new site, would not offer value for money or attract as many customers when compared with the level of customer use of the other swimming, fitness and sports facilities.”