Worries over the future of crown green bowls in Leyland after club protesters are locked out of town green
The future of bowling in Leyland could be under threat after a price hike at the town's green.
Bowlers who play at the Leyland Sports Association say a change to the fee structure could price them out of the game.
With around 70 bowlers and 11 teams at the club, a number of members – who for the most part are retired – are concerned for the future.
The change will see the current Â£40 a year fee scrapped and replaced with a Â£20 registration fee, with a Â£2.50 an hour charge per person, per practise session. There is also a match day cost of Â£3.50 per person for both home and away teams.
Chairman of the bowlers, Les Crosby, said: “If this doesn’t get resolved we will have to pull out of all the leagues and everything that has been organised this year.”
Member Abe Shannon, 75, said: “We have to pay Â£3.50 ourselves and also Â£3.50 for the opposition per person, per game.
“Some of our players play up to four games a week. That’s costs of over Â£20 a week.”
Abe added: “We will end up just folding. No one will pay this, we can’t do it. We will finish playing.
“People come from Wigan, from Chorley, from Preston to play here.
“This is our recreation, it keeps us fit and active.”
Another member, Dennis Hunter, said: “I will end up paying up to Â£600 a year. We are up in arms. It’s very sad.”
Yesterday, members of the bowling team turned up to the club site on Thurston Road to hold a protest against the changes.
But upon arriving at the bowling greens, they were met with locked gates and a car parked in front of them.
Chairman Les said: “We are just disappointed in the way this has come about. There’s been no consultation over the change to introduce the pay to play system.
“It’s been really stressful over the last three to four weeks. We are reasonable people; all we want to do is play bowls.”
Bowlers from Leyland SA – which was founded in 2006 out of the old Leyland Motors Social and Athletic Club – say the decision to increase costs was made by the association’s board.
The board members declined to comment when contacted by the Guardian.
South Ribble councillor for Leyland, Claire Hamilton, said: “I’ve met with members of the bowling club and am very concerned about the new costs.
“I have written to the chair of the trust to hear their side and I am still waiting on their response.
“This could have a detrimental impact on some members of the community because they can’t play the sport. It’s all about the social aspect.”