Bowls clubs move delayed

MELVILLE bowling club has been granted a stay of execution after scores of senior citizens packed the council’s gallery on Wednesday to protest a planned merger of clubs.

The council’s lawn bowls strategy had recommended two mixed-use sporting hubs at Tompkins Park and Morris Buzacott Reserve because the city has more bowling greens than it’s crop of bowlers need.

Under the plan Melville and Mount Pleasant bowling clubs would have merged at Tompkins Park.

“Comparable to other sports Melville ratepayers are subsidising lawn bowls quite significantly”, says Melville CEO Shayne Silcox.

“We hope to be able to give them state of the art facilities, a wider membership base, reduced financial burdens and importantly an opportunity to preserve their history with their future secured.”

A deputation led by former East Fremantle mayor Tim Smith and Melville bowls club’s incoming president Ken Atkins argued the council had misread the club’s financial health and its need to move.

“We have no debt. We have a very healthy bank balance and do not rely on council support at this time,” Mr Atkins said.

“Council used selective data to assist with relocation plans for the Melville Bowling Club,” Mr Smith followed.

“In our opinion, it’s a land grab”.

Mayor Russell Aubrey said land freed up by the club’s move would be for recreational purposes “providing financial benefit to the city” but didn’t provide any additional details.

There was also debate about whether senior bowlers would feel as comfortable socialising at a larger facility.

“Sporting hubs don’t create the club culture, they destroy the club culture,” councillor Nick Pazolli said to cheers from the gallery.

Cr Pat Phelan argued bowling culture comes from the community not the clubhouse.

“Elderly people can play bowls wherever they like”, she said to moans from the gallery.

Cr Cameron Schuster suggested deferring the item, which was passed.

by TRILOKESH CHANMUGAM

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