Hopes of seeing a new resident bowling club at the Baileys Court green have taken a step forward with the inaugural meeting of the Bradley Stoke Bowls Club.
Over forty people, including many former members of the now disbanded Northavon Bowling Club, attended the meeting on Tuesday 13th January.
The meeting was also attended by the Mayor of Bradley Stoke, Cllr Mark Forsyth, Cllr Ben Walker, who has spearheaded the latest negotiations with the bowlers on behalf of Bradley Stoke Town Council, and Cllr Jon Williams.
Members of the new bowls club’s committee were keen to stress that the formation of a new club represents a new start and any talk of what happened between the old Northavon club and the Town Council should be condemned to history.
That statement, however, did not stop two prospective members asking questions about the dispute that led to the Town Council evicting the Northavon Bowling Club in May 2008.
Both questions related to the involvement of Cllr Julian Barge, Mayor at the height of the dispute, who many of the bowlers feel harboured a grudge against the old club.
The two questions were met with mutterings of disapproval from the majority in the room, who were clearly not in favour of going over old ground.
In response, Cllr Mark Forsyth said the dispute had been caused by “a clash of personalities”, adding:
“Now, you [the club] don’t have the personalities and our [the Council’s ] personalities are not in the driving seat.”
The meeting went on hear about the large number of friendly fixtures already arranged by the committee and its plans for acquiring new equipment, grants and even sponsorship – Specsavers have apparently expressed an interest!
The following morning, Bowls Club Chairman Jim Durlacher and Mayor Forsyth took part in an interview on BBC Radio Bristol.
Cllr Forysth told listeners that the Town Council would “… help facilitate them, build up their membership, and hopefully they will become a fantastic club”.
Mr Durlacher revealed that the club plans to hold a ‘fun day’ on Saturday 1st May, followed by their first official match on Sunday 2nd May. Asked by presenter Steve Le Fevre if he was happy with the new arrangements with the Town Council, he answered “we are at the moment”, which led to Mr Le Fevre commenting that he sounded “a little bit guarded”.
The following statement was issued by the club last week:
The inaugural meeting of the 13th January 2010 was well attended, despite the adverse weather conditions. 46 people turned up, including three Councillors, the Editor of The Journal and Winsome Barrett-Muir of Southern Brooks Community Partnership.
A welcome was extended to all by the chairman Jim Durlacher, who went on to explain our hopes for the forthcoming season. Brian Newman (fixture secretary) was pleased to announce that the club has 57 mixed fixtures for the 2010 season and what with Monday triples league (in house) and a few fun days (normally on Bank holidays ), we should have a full and enjoyable season.
Since the meeting the membership is now approaching 50 and we hope to enter a team in the Bristol and District Bowls Leaque (Div 4) very shortly; those games to be played on a Thursday evening.
We are still recruiting new members regardless of whether or not they have bowled before and anyone interested in joining should ring Jim on 0117 9693623 or Brian 0117 9696918.
This story was held back in the hope that we would be able to append a report of the discussion on the bowls club matter at the BSTC Full Council meeting last Wednesday. In the event, that discussion was held behind closed doors, the public and press having been excluded – despite no indication that this might happen being given on the agenda.
The motion to hold the discussion in private, “in view of the sensitive and confidential nature of the business about to be transacted”, was proposed by Cllr Mark Forsyth and seconded by Cllr Julian Barge.
Cllr Ben Walker later told The Journal:
“I was a little surprised that the bowls item went into closed session, and I must stress that it doesn’t indicate any issues.”
He added that nothing was agreed at the meeting and the plan remains to present the final agreement to the next meeting of Full Council in March.
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