BOWLERS in Dawlish are facing an uncertain future as efforts to negotiate a new lease may leave them open to huge repair bills.
Dawlish Bowling Club says it is looking at footing the bill for repairs and ongoing maintenance to its clubhouse and green on The Lawn in Dawlish if it accepts the terms of a new lease agreement.
It says Teignbridge Council is ‘insisting’ on a lease which would leave the club financially responsible.
But a survey carried out for landlords Teignbridge Council has said at least £30,000 worth of work is needed to the ageing clubhouse.
Treasurer Noel Nickless explained: ‘The clubhouse is more than 100 years old and a survey carried out for Teignbridge Council says it needs about £30,000 worth of work carried out.
‘Teignbridge Council says it would honour that work but it would have to be done over 15 years.
‘Our biggest problem is it has a very old, slate roof with asbestos tiles.
‘In the past few years, it has been patched up but there are leaks.
‘It would be irresponsible for the committee to commit to a lease which left us responsible for a very old building and the survey we have does not cover everything.’
Under the current arrangement, Teignbridge Council contributes £4,000 towards the £8,000 cost of maintaining the green.
If the club accepts the new lease, they would be liable for the whole annual cost with no help from the authority.
Mr Nickless said: ‘We would already have a shortfall of £4,000 to find from our budget just to cover the costs of the green.’
He explained as the club’s membership was mainly pensioners, putting up the fees, which are currently £100 a year, would hit them hard and they could lose many members.
He said: ‘In that case, the club becomes less viable.’
It is understood Marina Bowls Club, which runs from a site at Sandy Lane, is facing the same situation renewing its lease from the council.
A spokesman for Teignbridge Council said: ‘Both bowling club leases are due for renewal.
‘Negotiations are taking place with the clubs and we hope to secure an amicable agreement on future terms.’
Town councillor and former mayor of Dawlish John Petherick has raised the concerns of both clubs.
He said: ‘This is not a fair and sensible option as the necessary repairs are expected to be In excess of many thousands of pounds.
‘I have checked with Marina Bowls Club and they are also faced with the same predicament.
‘The Marina clubhouse is a single skinned building over 100 years old and started its life as an amenity cafe at Dawlish Warren before its relocation to Sandy Lane.
‘The roof isn’t insulated and there are numerous areas where vermin access the building during the winter months.’
Under the suggested new lease terms, Cllr Petherick says he understands Marina Bowls Club would also be responsible for maintenance of its clubhouse.
He added: ‘Lawn bowls has been played in Dawlish for over 100 years.
‘It is a low impact activity that combines hand-eye co-ordination with cognitive skills and balance to get the asymmetrical bowls closest to the jack.
‘It improves aerobic fitness and balance and can be done inside and outside, at any age and physical activity, making it fully inclusive.
‘I understand that currently several Dawlish residents play in national events, and one has trialled to represent England.’
Cllr Petherick is calling on both Dawlish Town Council and Teignbridge Council to use some of the Community Infrastructure Levy income they have received from new house building to meet the costs.
He said: ‘Both of our Dawlish clubhouses require considerable investment to ensure that they are both safe and fit for purpose.
‘Both clubhouses are well placed to offer their facilities to the community to use for small meetings/gatherings, but the structures are currently unsafe and no longer fit for purpose.’