Five of the borough's seven bowling clubs have been given a last minute temporary reprieve from cuts totalling £100,000 after Labour councillors called for the plans to be delayed for a year to allow the clubs to develop sustainable business plans.
Conservative councillor, John Hart, abstained on the vote to delay the cuts for all seven clubs at last night's Environment Committee (11 January), resulting in the Chair of the Committee, Conservative councillor Dean Cohen using his casting vote to defeat Labour's proposal.
However, the Chair subsequently agreed to a delay for five of the seven clubs where the council had not finalised plans. A report on these remaining five clubs - Finchley Victoria, East Barnet Valley, Mill Hill, Friary Park and Barnet Bowling Clubs - will come back to a future Environment Committee.
The cuts, which were due to be implemented in two months time, will mean bowling clubs become self-managing at nearly no cost to the council. Under the plans, some bowling greens and buildings would be closed and some clubs forced to merge.
A number of clubs have raised concerns with Labour councillors that two months is not enough time for them to recruit new members, and develop sustainable business plans for the future.
The East Barnet Valley Bowling Club, which celebrates its 90th anniversary this year, is worried the plan may result in their closure, and so far arrangements to secure the future of the Blind and Partially Sighted Bowling Club have not been finalised.
The Blind and Partially Sighted Bowling Club has been running for 40 years, and the club's members include a national champion of blind bowling, their Team Captain is 92 years old, and their oldest member is 100 years old. The club plays at the Mill Hill and Barnet Bowling Clubs who currently allow them to use their bowling greens free of charge, but many of the club's members may not be able to continue to play if Tory-run Barnet's plan to impose self-management on all bowling clubs leads to unaffordable charges.
Labour councillors had secured agreement at the Environment Committee in September that the Blind and Partially Sighted Club would be protected.
Labour's Environment spokesperson, Cllr Alan Schneiderman said: "Bowling clubs are crucial in providing physical activity and the ability to socialise, especially for older people. I am pleased that the Tories agreed to delay these cuts for the five Clubs where plans for self-management have not been finalised yet.
"The Clubs are willing to work with the Council to secure a sustainable future, but imposing cuts before they have time to put a proper plan in place could mean that they have to close."
1. A copy of the report on community management of bowling clubs can be found here (Agenda Item 10):
2. For more from Barnet Labour on the bowling club proposals see:
For more information contact Cllr Alan Schneiderman: firstname.lastname@example.org