Posts Tagged ‘Northavon Bowls Club’

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Former world champion David Bryant to officially open new bowls club

Posted on Tuesday 9th March 2010 at 6:50 am by SH (Editor)

David Bryant CBE
Bowls legend David Bryant CBE, three-times world champion and four-times Commonwealth Games champion, is to perform the opening ceremony of the new Bradley Stoke Bowls Club on Saturday 1st May.

Representatives of  the City & County of Bristol Bowling Association and the Gloucestershire  Bowling Association are also expected to attend the event.

The sport is returning to the Baileys Court green two years after the former Northavon Bowls Club was controversially evicted from the ground by Bradley Stoke Town Council in a dispute over rent.

A spokesperson for the newly-formed club says they have already signed up 62 members and are expecting numbers to grow even more by the time the new season gets underway.

Annual membership of the club has been set at £35 and new bowlers are being offered training from two qualified coaches.

Bradley Stoke Town Council’s Finance Committee recently agreed to set the new bowls club’s first year rent at £1,500, inclusive of maintenance of the bowling green – an estimated £8,000 p.a. cost previously borne by members of the Northavon club.

The deal received cross-party support from members of the Finance Committee, with the notable exceptions of Cllr Julian Barge and spouse Cllr Elizabeth Todd, who both abstained.

The agreement must now be ratified at a meeting of Full Council later this month.

The club is holding its ‘Spring Meeting’ on Tuesday 13th April (7pm start) at the Baileys Court Activity Centre and welcomes enquiries from new and experienced bowlers.

More information: Bradley Stoke Bowls Club (The Journal)

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Meeting called to form new bowls club – but will the Council play ball?

Posted on Monday 11th January 2010 at 6:50 am by SH (Editor)

New Bowling ClubA public meeting on Wednesday evening this week is to discuss the possibility of forming a new bowling club in Bradley Stoke.

The move comes almost twelve months to the day after the town’s  long-established Northavon Bowling Club was forced to wind itself up after a dispute with Bradley Stoke Town Council (BSTC) over the rental of the bowling green at Baileys Court.

The Town Council had insisted upon increasing the rent by 8% p.a. over a ten year period and when the bowlers refused to agree to the new terms they were locked out of their ground.

Defiant Bowlers at Baileys Court

The dispute, dubbed “Battle of the Bowls” by the national media, hit the headlines in April 2008 when a group of bowlers found their way into the ground to stage a protest match. The Council reacted by calling in the police, who turned up in force to deal with the elderly rebels.

Hopes of a possible settlement were raised in December 2008, when senior Councillors and representatives of the club were said to have informally agreed new terms, but the proposed deal failed to gain the support of the Council’s Finance and Leisure Committee.

The bowlers subsequently called an extraordinary general meeting on 24th January 2009, at which it was unanimously decided to wind the club up.

The fracas has had serious financial implications for the Council, which is now liable for the maintenance of the bowling green at Baileys Court, an £8,000 p.a. cost previously borne by the bowls club. It has also lost out on the £2,000+ clubhouse hire fees previously paid by the bowlers.

Cllr Julian Barge, Mayor at the time of the April 2008 ground invasion, told BBC Points West that the bowls club “needed to get into the real world”. Two years on, the Council is now having to face up to the “real world” consequences of its decision, which in financial terms must already amount to something in the order of £20,000 (excluding legal expenses).

The possibility of forming a new bowling club in the town was first raised by Cllr Ben Walker at a Council  meeting on 16th September 2009. That meeting was told that former Northavon President Jim Durlacher had expressed a interest in forming a new ‘Bradley Stoke Bowling Club’ to be based at Baileys Court.

The following morning, Cllr Walker and Mayor Mark Forsyth took part in a  live interview from the Baileys Court ground on BBC Radio Bristol. Representatives from the would-be bowls club were, however, conspicuous by their absence, which rather reduced the impact of the broadcast.

A press release put out the same day by BSTC quoted Mr Durlacher as saying he was confident of attracting 50 bowlers  to the new club in time for the 2010 season.

The previous bowls club is thought to have had around a hundred members at the time of its demise, but the majority of those have now joined neighbouring clubs and many are likely to be reluctant to return to join a fledgling group in Bradley Stoke.

When The Journal spoke to Mr Durlacher last week, he seemed to have set his sights somewhat lower, saying that he hoped he could attract 30 members for the new club’s first season. His concept of a maximum £35 annual membership fee is also likely to be at odds with the Council’s expectations – at that rate the Council is only going to recoup one tenth of the annual £10,000 hole in its finances caused by the demise of the old club.

The inaugural meeting of the new bowling club  takes place at the Baileys Court Activity Centre at 7:30pm on Wednesday (13th January). All those interested in bowling are invited to attend and training is promised for all new bowlers.

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Bowls club could rise from the ashes in 2010

Posted on Thursday 17th September 2009 at 8:37 am by SH (Editor)

Baileys Court Bowling Green

A new bowls club could take up residence at Bradley Stoke’s Baileys Court Activity Centre in 2010, following secret talks between Deputy Mayor Ben Walker and a former president of the now disbanded Northavon Bowls Club.

The bowling green at Baileys Court has been virtually unused for the past two seasons after the old bowls club failed to come to agreement over the terms of a new rental agreement with Bradley Stoke Town Council (BSTC).

The dispute hit the national headlines in April 2008 when bowlers from the club staged a protest match at the Baileys Court green, despite being barred from the premises by the Council.

Defiant Bowlers at Baileys Court

Seven police officers and PCSOs were called in to deal with the disturbance – a reaction dubbed “Operation Overkill” by the the Daily Mail, which portrayed the bowlers as a group of harmless pensioners being bullied by their local Council.

Northavon Bowls Club was formally evicted from the site in May 2008 and the club disbanded in January 2009.

In evicting the bowls club, the Council landed itself with an additional expenditure of about £7,000 p.a., arising from the fact that the bowls club had previously maintained the green at its own expense. This is because the Town Council is obliged by the terms of its own lease with South Gloucestershire Council to provide a bowling facility at Baileys Court until 2041.

Cllr Walker revealed details of his talks with potential members of a new bowls club to a meeting of Bradley Stoke Town Council last night (Wednesday). Fellow Councillors agreed to endorse a statement that “welcomed the interest shown by [former bowls club president] Jim Durlacher in forming a new bowls club at Baileys Court – to be named Bradley Stoke Bowls Club”.

The proposed name of the new club is significant as the fact that many members of the old Northavon Bowls Club lived outside Bradley Stoke was one of the main arguments put forward by the Council in justifying the rental increase it was demanding from the club. The bowlers countered this by pointing out that many of the Councillors involved in the negotiations were also “out of towners” – Cllr Julian Barge (Mayor at the time of the April 2008 invasion incident), Cllr Mark Forsyth (Chair of the Finance Committee during the negotiations in 2008) and Cllr Ben Walker (current Deputy Mayor) all live outside the town’s boundaries.

Cllr Walker told last night’s meeting that Mr Durlacher believes he can recruit around 50 members for the new club and emphasised that these would be “mostly from Bradley Stoke”.

Councillors agreed that the Mayor and Chairs of Committees be authorised to enter further negotiations with the interested parties.

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Demise of bowls club could cost Town Council an extra £7,000 p.a. for next 32 years

Posted on Wednesday 21st January 2009 at 6:50 am by SH (Editor)

The Journal has learned that Northavon Bowls Club, evicted from its Baileys Court base by Bradley Stoke Town Council in a row over rent, could soon be wound up.

An extraordinary general meeting of the club has been called for this Saturday (24th January), when it is expected that a vote will be taken on a proposal to dissolve the club.

The bowlers were evicted from their Baileys Court ground after they refused to sign up to a new rental deal, which would have committed them to annual increases of 8% p.a. on their £2,500 payment for room rental at the facility.

Prior to eviction, the club employed its own groundsman to maintain the green, at a cost of £8,000 p.a. This has now been taken on by the Council, which now operates the green on a “pay as you go” basis, for which  the take up is “probably non-existent” according to Council Chairman Robert Jones.

The Journal understands that, under the terms of its lease from South Gloucestershire Council, the Town Council is committed to providing a bowling facility at Baileys Court until 2041.

Having evicted the bowlers over the matter of a few hundred pounds p.a., the Council is now left in the embarrassing position of having to spend thousands of pounds each year maintaining a green that is hardly used.

With this bleak reality no doubt on Councillors’ minds, a proposal was put forward at the December meeting of the Finance & Leisure Committee for the club to be offered a much-reduced rental of £8,100 p.a. (inclusive of green maintenance), with a 6% annual increase (reviewable on a rolling basis).

This startling backtrack by the Conservative-dominated Council, which would see the effective charge to the club for room rental drop from £2,500 to just £100 p.a., was justified on the grounds of:

  • Reduced membership numbers, now that many have joined other clubs since the eviction;
  • The deteriorating economic climate; and
  • A (newly discovered) case for subsidising maintenance of the green.

The proposal, which also required the club to provide two personal guarantors, was carried (much to the surprise of the Town Clerk) by two votes to one, with a remarkable seven Councillors abstaining.

The club is understood to have since informed the Council that, with its depleted membership, it can afford to pay no more than £6,600 p.a. and that no members are prepared to act as personal guarantors.

The Council has said that it can reduce its costs to £7,000 p.a. by maintaining the green to “public usage” standard instead of the more demanding level expected for “club usage”.

The bowls dispute in pictures:

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