Bowling club could be forced to close by the coronavirus

Amy Shearerin Bowls

A bowling club that has been at the heart of the Inverclyde community for over a century could be forced to close by the coronavirus.

Joe Carruthers and Sammy Hunter pandemic woes of Lady Alice Bowling Club

Committee members at Lady Alice BC say they are burning through funds, with no means to replenish them.

They fear that the club will not survive beyond October.

Club secretary Joe Carruthers has been attempting to source financial support to help keep the 105-year-old club afloat.

But he says they are not eligible for the Scottish Government's business support grant, or any third-sector payments, and have 'fallen through the cracks' of the Covid-19 financial support system.

Mr Carruthers said: "Unfortunately we really do not think the future is looking good for the bowling club as we are unable to apply for any grants or relief funds as we do not have something known as a rates number.

"We've exhausted all options."

"I've been in touch with our local MP, MSP, Inverclyde Council and have even written to the First Minister."

"It is incredibly worrying knowing we could be closed forever come October."

"We are quickly running out of money as our biggest source of income is the bar and hiring out of the hall for private functions."

"This obviously hasn't happened for months due to the virus - and nor do we know when it will start up again.

"Our staff have been furloughed except for the greenkeeper who we had to bring back as the green reopened.

"However we still have many outgoings and bills despite not being fully operational.

"We really hope that someone will be able to step in or that the criteria for the business support grant will be amended to save our much-loved club from closing."

Councillor Tommy McVey, whose patch includes the club, has been exploring options in a bid to help save it.

He said: "It appears that some of our local bowling clubs did not qualify for the business support grant and are currently getting no support due to not having a 'rates number'.

"Perhaps this is something that our local MSP could assist with, as it was the Scottish Government who set the criteria for the business support grant.

"The council have provided some assistance by issuing grants earlier than last year, which has been of some assistance.

"That said, the clubs still have to pay rent, utilities, insurance and other bills every month with no income coming in.

"I am currently pursuing a couple of avenues to try and get some support to the clubs, however discussions are at a very early stage."

The threat of closure ironically comes just eight months after the club secured a 25-year lease to enable them to apply for funding for their planned and much-needed clubhouse renovation."

Joe is now hoping that the council will be able to step in and offer support in the interim.

An Inverclyde Council spokesperson told the Telegraph: "The council awarded Lady Alice Bowling Club £2,000 last month as part of a scheme to provide emergency financial aid to community and voluntary groups to help them through the coronavirus crisis."

"While the national rules unfortunately don't allow the club to access the business grant, there may be other sources of funding and support available."

"We would urge any business to speak to our business development and Business Gateway Inverclyde team, who can either provide direct help or point people in the right direction."

You can read the original article from the Greenock Telegraph HERE

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