‘We can’t let them get away with it’ says Hudson bowls club as they urge members to lobby MP Steve Barclay following threatened closure

PUBLISHED: 09:57 13 September 2018

Under threat: Hudson indoor bowls club at Wisbech. It follows decision by Fenland Council to hand over running of its four leisure centres to private enterprise. The company chosen doesn't want the bowls club. PHOTO: Hudson bowls club

Under threat: Hudson indoor bowls club at Wisbech. It follows decision by Fenland Council to hand over running of its four leisure centres to private enterprise. The company chosen doesn't want the bowls club. PHOTO: Hudson bowls club

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Hudson Bowls Club members in Wisbech were urged today to contact MP Steve Barclay over their threatened closure once Fenland Council hands over management of its leisure centre to an outside firm.

Under threat: Hudson indoor bowls club at Wisbech. It follows decision by Fenland Council to hand over running of its four leisure centres to private enterprise. The company chosen doesn't want the bowls club. PHOTO: Hudson bowls club Under threat: Hudson indoor bowls club at Wisbech. It follows decision by Fenland Council to hand over running of its four leisure centres to private enterprise. The company chosen doesn't want the bowls club. PHOTO: Hudson bowls club

“I urge all of you to write to him with your thoughts on the planned closure of our great club,” said spokesman Matt Hewitt.

“We can’t let them get away with this and need to make ourselves heard now.”

A council spokesman said: “In 2017 we discussed and agreed a short term lease with Wisbech Indoor Bowls Club until December 31, 2018. The length of the lease was due to the ongoing leisure centre procurement project and the uncertainty regarding the long term future of the bowls facility.”

The spokesman added: “As part of the new leisure contract, we are working with Freedom Leisure towards a handover on December 4 of the operation and management of the centres.

Under threat: Hudson indoor bowls club at Wisbech. It follows decision by Fenland Council to hand over running of its four leisure centres to private enterprise. The company chosen doesn't want the bowls club. PHOTO: Hudson bowls clubUnder threat: Hudson indoor bowls club at Wisbech. It follows decision by Fenland Council to hand over running of its four leisure centres to private enterprise. The company chosen doesn't want the bowls club. PHOTO: Hudson bowls club

“We have written to the bowls club and are keen to meet with their committee members and identify how we can work together to provide support moving forward.”

Protests have gone in to council leader Chris Seaton after many members of the ruling Conservative group found out – too late it seems – that the company taking over the Hudson leisure centre planned to close the highly successful indoor bowls club.

Heated exchanges began after councillors claimed they should have been informed that the company brought in by Fenland Council to run its four leisure centres will make the 140 members of the club homeless.

Ironically the club, which grew out of the ashes of a previous group, has enjoyed spectacular success and won a 12 month lease under Fenland’s ‘open for business objective’.

Last month the council described its ‘partnership’ with Freedom as offering, over the next 15 years, savings of up to £350,000 a year against the current budget to manage the Hudson and other centres in March, Chatteris, and Whittlesey.

But no one predicted one of its first acts would be to announce an end to the indoor bowls club at the Hudson.

Club membership secretary Roger Rawson said their chairman, the mayor of Wisbech, Councillor Peter Human, had been told of Freedom’s decision.

“We had no idea this was coming,” said Mr Rawson. “We’ve even just paid nearly £1,000 to have the carpet cleaned ahead of the winter.”

“The club is busy throughout the week offering a wide range of opportunities for people of all ages to get involved; its membership numbers have continued to show a regular increase.”

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