By Richard Beecham, local democracy reporter
The decision to cancel plans to close half of Leeds’s council-maintained bowling greens has been welcomed by campaigners.
As part of early plans for next year’s Leeds City Council budget, the council had proposed reducing the number of bowling greens from 62 to 31, in an attempt to save £83,000 per year.
But, following consultation with the public, the council has chosen to scrap the proposals and instead increase the price of a season ticket from £31 to £40-a-year for each player.
It means West Leeds bowling greens will remain in Armley Park, Bramley Park, Stanningley Park, Calverley Victoria Park, Farsley Westroyd Park, New Farnley Park, New Wortley Recreation Ground, Western Flatts Park in Wortley, Burley Park, Pudsey Park and Tyersal Park.
Steve Olivant, Secretary of the Leeds Crown Green Bowls Association, was elated with the decision, and hopes it can be a new start for the sport in Leeds. He said:
“£40 is still reasonable – it works out at about 90p a week (per person). When you think about the money the council said it would need to save, I think we got a good deal.
“All along, we argued about the benefits of the physical and social interaction it brings. I don’t know why we have had a U-turn but it is welcome.”
Mr Olivant said the decision should be seen as a perfect opportunity to get more people into the sport once Covid-19 lockdown rules have been lifted. He added:
“As it stands, I don’t think the summer season will start in April, but it depends on how the lockdown goes.
“I have been speaking to a couple of clubs – once we get going again, we are planning to hold open days. We are hoping to recruit some more participants and pushing the game forward.
“It’s like a new start, really – but then again, I think 99 per cent of our members will be rushing to get in once it opens again!”
A council report to be considered by the council’s executive board next week said the price increase would generate £12,500 income per year. It said:
“Positive engagement will continue on possible asset transfers where this is preferred, and additional income will be generated through increasing the price of a season ticket from £31 to £40 as recommended by some respondents to the consultation.”