A public consultation has started on plans to secure the future of bowling greens across the borough.
Under the proposals all bowling greens, with the exception of two secondary greens, would remain open – news which has been welcomed by council chiefs.
Council officers have been in discussions for months with clubs to look at how the greens are used and identify any opportunities to reduce costs.
A number of detailed options have now been drawn up to reduce running costs by £67K, helping contribute to the council’s £23.5m savings target (for 2019-21).
Under the proposals, 23 greens would remain open but two sites, in Kearsley and Westhoughton, could see their secondary green closing.
New fees for using the greens and club houses would also be implemented.
Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr David Greenhalgh, said: “We always said that this was an activity we wanted to keep in Bolton but that there might just be different ways of delivering the service.
“I’m really pleased that the options on the table would see every club still having a bowling green.
“We don’t want to lose any of the clubs in this town. Bowling greens have always been in the council’s remit and it’s right that should continue.”
The full proposals:-
• Increasing fees from approximately £1 per week to £2.50 per week for the Summer season (i.e. from £25 to £65 per person).
• A new charge of £500 or £750, per site, for winter use (October to March) of pavilions. Fees would depend upon the size of the building and level of use.
• Stopping the maintenance of two secondary greens - at Kearsley Park and Westhoughton Central Park. At Kearsley there is alternative capacity in the area (with the remaining green) and there is insufficient demand at Westhoughton Central Park. A single, maintained green would still remain at each of these sites along with a pavilion building.
• Reducing the end of season renovation at greens to drainage work only.
• Closing the separate ‘social’ building at Haslam Park, which is not essential for the use of the bowling green.
Executive Cabinet Member for Environmental Services Delivery, Cllr Adele Warren, added: “We need to ensure that the future of our bowling greens is sustainable for years to come.
“The current situation means the greens and use of the pavilions all year round is heavily subsidised by the council.
“This needs to change and I’m pleased that the team have already had really productive conversations with the clubs.
“We know from all of our discussions with clubs that most accepted we would need to look to increasing fees.
“We have looked at every option as an alternative to reducing the number of sites available for users.”
Bowling clubs have been updated on the proposals and a drop-in session for representatives will also be held on February 3. A survey is also available online www.bolton.gov.uk/consultations
All feedback received will be considered and final proposals will then be approved by the council. Changes could be implemented from this Spring.