0 Bowls and croquet fees set to rocket by 700 per cent in Dudley

A cut in funding for the maintenance of bowling greens and croquet lawns in a Black Country borough could see player fees increase by more than 700 per cent

bowlsDudley Council provides £79,000 a year to help look after greens and lawns in the area. But this funding looks likely to be cut under cost-cutting plans.

In preparation, the council is in talks with many of the borough's clubs over how the greens and lawns will be maintained in the wake of funding cuts.

Three options are being looked at, according to a report by the council's Ernest Stevens Trusts Management Committee.

One option is hike fees for bowling activities to pay for the maintenance bill. The current cost of bowling on greens is between £5 and £20 a year - this could increase to £75 to £150 a year.

Another option is for a hike in fees and assistance with maintenance from clubs, which would hold fundraising events to pay for services.

The final option is to ask clubs to increase their fees to the council for the use of greens and lawns.

Tom Keys, chairman of Stourbridge Sons of Rest, said: "We are not happy about this. We are senior citizens and were prepared to face extra charges but this is not reasonable."

Bosses have also advised trustees of Wollescote Park and Mary Stevens Park that their deeds of gift do not 'tie the council into maintaining the bowling greens or any details of specific standards of maintenance'.

Mr Keys continued: "They may be trying to bend the rules but they cannot ignore what the deeds of gift say as they need to get the approval of the charity committee too.

"We will continue to liaise with other clubs in the borough and manage this as best as we can as we will not be giving up."

Talks of the clubs entering a lease arrangement to enable them to access funding not available to the council or undertaking asset transfer are also proposed.

Councillor Hilary Bills, cabinet member for Environmental Services, said: "The reality is that the money is not there to maintain it at the standard it is now.

"We are desperate to keep theses clubs and greens going and find new ways of working and we hope that they will work alongside us."

For the original article, visit www.expressandstar.com.

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