Bowls club faces delay in news over its future

Marina Centre

Marina Centre - Credit: Archant

The fate of a bowls club is still unclear as members face being ousted from their home rinks in Great Yarmouth’s Marina Centre.

However, there was a glimmer of hope for the future with council leader Graham Plant saying should the worst come to the worst then the council would help look at other options for Great Yarmouth Indoor Bowls Club.

Under plans being proposed by Sentinel, the new operators of the Marina Centre, the indoor bowls facilities would be swept away to create a new gym facility as part of plans for a multi-million pound makeover of the leisure centre.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the full council, bowls club chairman Helen Farrow asked what options were available to them if the current space was closed and wanted to know if they would be re-homed.

She said: “This decision is vital to the future of the bowls club moving forward, and it is essential we know as soon as possible, so we can plan our next season.”

Cllr Plant said the redevelopment of the Marina Centre was part of a process to create a 21st century leisure offering in the town and some difficult decisions would have to be taken - in this case using the council’s sports, leisure and play strategy as a guide.

He added: “We appreciate this is taking us longer than we expected.”

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However, he said if the decision impacted on users the council would help to look at other options for the club and promised to get a written response to Mrs Farrow to her second question, about the club being re-homed, as soon as possible.

After the meeting, Mrs Farrow said members were still uncertain about whether they had another season at the venue, as the current one ends in April.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Cllr Carl Smith, cabinet member for the environment, said: “The aims of the leisure programme are to create 21st century leisure facilities for residents and visitors, while reducing the subsidy from the council and ensuring the cost of redevelopment is met through increased revenue.

“The proposed Marina Centre redevelopment represents a major investment for the borough council which must deliver wide, long-term benefits for the borough. The borough council also recognises that any decision could have implications for current centre users, and the council remains committed to working closely with any users affected.

“For these reasons, it is vital that elected councillors take as much time as is necessary to thoroughly consider the full facts, take on board the views of a wide range of stakeholders, and consider all the options, in order to make the best decision for the whole community.

“Therefore, the decision over the Marina Centre investment cannot now be made in February. This approach has been endorsed by the cross-party Marina Centre members working group, which is involved in considering the options.

“As ever, the borough council continues to explore all options to boost sport, health and fitness facilities, activities and opportunities available locally.

“The decision over the Marina Centre will be guided by the council’s sports, play and leisure strategy, which identifies current and future needs and demand in relation to sports and leisure provision in the borough.”