Bowls players get year to find another home

Marina Centre

Marina Centre - Credit: Archant

A bowling club can stay at its seaside rinks for another year after the council said it wanted them for re-development.

More than 100 members of the county cup winning indoor bowling club based at Great Yarmouth's Marina Centre have fought a fierce campaign to save the facility since new plans were unveiled in September.

They maintain that the loss of their rinks would be a disaster for their members who enjoy the social benefits as well as the keen competition, and would struggle to bowl as a team anywhere else.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council, the Marina Centre's new operators Sentinel, and their partners Pulse announced a multi-million pound upgrade that depended on ousting the bowls club and cast a question mark over Retroskate, the country's largest artistic roller skating club.

But problems and objections have dogged the plans which have yet to be decided.

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Last month it was announced the scheme had been put on the back burner while the council looked into it more closely and un-picked the detail.

Both clubs were handed a stay of execution until December.

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However because of the way the bowls season works members needed to know they were safe until April 2017.

Helen Farrow, club chairman, announced this week that those assurances had now been given and that she was more confident than ever of pulling off a permanent reprieve.

She said: 'We have achieved a stay of execution and now we need to fight for a full pardon. We have got an extension for the bowls club to continue at the Marina until at least April 2017.

'Now we want an assurance from the borough council and Sentinel Leisure Trust that we have a secure future at the Marina Centre, even if that is with a reduced size of four rinks. We will then make every effort to increase our membership with the assistance of the centre's operators. Hopefully the council will agree that it is in their interest, in the long term, to spend some money on updating and improving the bowls facility which will help us in our efforts to attract more members.'

However council leader Graham Plant said that according to Sport England there was enough bowls provision in the borough outside of the Marina Centre and that the plan was still to move them on.

The bowls club had been given longer because their season runs from April to April and cutting it short could have affected other clubs in the league, he added.

Also, allowing them to stay gave members longer to find other clubs to move on to when theirs shut, he said.

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