Fears for Future of Bowling Club

Members of the Friary Park Bowling Club were shocked recently to hear news that Barnet Council wishes to ‘review’ the maintenance grants for managing bowling greens across the Borough. A number of initiatives are being considered, including options to increase membership, and hiring out the clubhouse to other organisations.

The alleged cost of maintaining the Friary Park Club is said to be in the region of £12,000 annually, and the Council are looking for savings of at least £100,000 borough-wide. To maintain the greens to a high standard means all-year round attention, involving scarifying, fertilizing and cutting the grass which needs constant professional care.

There are eight publicly maintained clubs in Barnet, some more financially viable than others. As the result of a recent meeting of the Council’s Environment Committee, Friary Park Bowling Club has been given until this month to come up with a plan to guarantee its future. Negotiations are taking place with the Council, but with its comparatively small membership the Club must come up with a business plan to respond to the Council’s financial demands.

A number of initiatives are being considered but the bottom line is that the Club needs many more members to increase its income. There are various options on the table to increase membership, and there is the possibility of hiring out the clubhouse to other organisations and doing various fund-raising activities.

The Club’s President, Barry Carmody said “This is an extremely worrying time. We are looking at a number of ideas to bring in more income to meet any increased charges but to do this we do need many more members. We cannot envisage the idea of the Club having to close”.

One suggestion is for Friary Park to combine with Barnet Bowls Club, but understandably neither club is willing to surrender its own green, both of which have been part of the local heritage for many years.

Barry Carmody added “Friary Park Bowling Club has existed for over 100 years. In 1910 the Park’s founder Sydney Simmons, himself a keen bowler and former President of the Club, purchased what is now Friary Park with his own money, gave it to the local community and laid out the bowling green. He stipulated that the new Park would be maintained by the Council for use by the inhabitants ‘for all time’. This is a crucial condition of the agreement and the stipulations are well documented”.

It will be a tragedy if the Club folds up. It is an integral part of Friary Park and one wonders what would happen if the green is abandoned. Could it go the same way as the lake, the putting green and the grass tennis courts?

Although it is recognised that Barnet Council needs to make savings, this comes at a time when the Government and local authorities are anxious for older citizens to remain active and healthy to prevent them being a burden on social care. It seems odd that Barnet Council could be responsible for depriving the community of such a benefit.
If you have never tried your hand at bowling you would be welcome to have a go by using one of the Club’s rinks. Contact Barry Carmody, tel: 0208 445 6419, or by emailing him at barrycarmody68@gmail.com.

You are encouraged to contact your local councillors to voice yourown concerns. They are Councillors Barry Rawlings, Reema Patel and Pauline Coakley-Webb.

Richard Testar