‘If you can’t get on your bike, too bad’ – war of words over council’s bowling greens closure plans

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A senior West Leeds Tory has criticised the council for early plans to close half of the city’s local authority-run bowling greens.

Leader of Leeds City Council’s Conservatives group Coun Andrew Carter suggested the consultation to close 31 of the city’s outdoor greens showed how the authority was making it more difficult for older people in the district to enjoy active lifestyles.

It follows the emergence of a consultation document last week that suggested £83,000 a year could be saved from the closures, in a move branded ‘disappointing’ by the head of Leeds’s bowls association.

But the ruling Labour group have hit back – claiming cuts wouldn’t be made if the authority had been fully funded by the Conservative Government.

At an executive board meeting this week, Coun Carter called on the plans to be cancelled, and for equivalent savings to be found elsewhere.

He said: “The age profile of bowling greens is, shall we say, late middle age. They provide a huge outlet and resource for exercise for people.

“For the sort of money you are proposing to save, other areas will be identified to ensure we don’t have to go ahead with this sort of thing.

“When we talk about people having active lifestyles, it should be about people of all age groups. Increasingly, I look at the savings (the Labour administration) is proposing on things, like repairs on footpaths, then I see suggestions like this.

“It seems to me you are a one-trick pony – ‘get on your bike and if you can’t, too bad’ – I’m sorry, but that’s not good enough.”

Deputy leader of Leeds City Council James Lewis (Lab) said: “I listened carefully to what Coun Carter said.” He later added:

“There is no getting away from the scale of the fiscal reduction that is going to take place.

“If we are sufficiently funded, as we constantly request, by central government, many of these proposals will disappear, and we will have to find out what this funding settlement is.”

The funding settlement – which dictates how much money councils are given by central government – is expected to be announced later this year.

The council’s consultation document on bowling greens states that there are 62 outdoor bowling greens on 48 sites that are managed and maintained by the council’s parks and countryside service. It added:

“There is an overall cost of around £4,000 per green largely made up of labour costs representing a total cost of £248,000 for all 62 greens.  As indicated, the level of income (from members’ fees) in 2019/20 was £43,000 and therefore the net level of subsidy is around £205,000.

“The net saving would be £83,000 each year which takes account of an assumed income reduction if 31 greens were closed along with making due allowance for the capital cost of re-landscaping any greens removed.  It would also enable a reduction of 4.5 full time equivalent gardeners.”

The consultation on bowling greens is set to end on December 14.

3 COMMENTS

  1. The bowls green on western flatts Park spends most of the day every day locked. So when is open you can’t play because the regular people won’t let you. So let them pay for the upkeep. I think you will find that they soon want to stop using the green as they don’t want to pay for the maintenance etc

  2. Leave the bowling area its been there many years poor pudsey will have nothing left soon it’s a very busy place need things left alone as they are to many changes taking place

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