Bowling green plans slammed

Coun Ray Wells
Coun Ray Wells

A BOWLING club could be relocated at a cost of £60,000 as part of wider plans to build new houses on the site of a former library.

Hartlepool Borough Council is planning on moving the bowling green used by Foggy Furze Bowling Club in order to clear the whole of the Stockton Road site for a new housing development.

But plans to relocate the club have been slammed by Conservative group leader Ray Wells, who described it as a waste of money.

Council bosses say it will help “maximise” the value of the land.

Foggy Furze Library, which closed earlier this year, is also set to be demolished as part of the plans after council bosses agreed to sell the site.

The council received interest from six different organisations after it was put up for sale.

It has not been revealed who the site is set to be sold to, or for how much, as the council has not yet exchanged contracts with the preferred developer.

Labour councillor Robbie Payne, portfolio holder for finance and procurement, will discuss the proposal at a meeting on Thursday.

He is asked to approve plans to demolish the former library and approve the relocation of the bowling green at an estimated cost of £60,000.

A report to the meeting said: “The demolition of the former library and relocation of the bowling green will enable the release of a substantial site for comprehensive redevelopment, while minimising security costs and maximising capital receipts.”

But Coun Wells said: “When faced with the current economic climate we don’t need to make drastic cuts, we simply need to stop wasting money on unnecessary projects and this is a shining example of that.

“The proposal to spend £60,000 of hard- earned money when we have several perfectly good bowling greens in the borough astounds me.

“If the members of Foggy Furze Bowling Club will have to relocate anyway why should we spend money doing it when they could simply join another club?”

A council spokesman said: “The initial decision to close Foggy Furze branch library and sell the surrounding land was taken following unprecedented cuts in the level of Government grant we receive.

“The council has been able to maximise the value of the land by including the bowling green as part of the sale.

“However, we have a responsibility to find a replacement site for the bowlers and this is something which is insisted upon by Sport England – the body appointed by the Government to oversee sports provision throughout the country.”

A report to the meeting said the current bowling facilities will be retained as long as possible to minimise the disruption to the club.

Foggy Furze Library closed its doors at the end of March due to council budget cuts, saving the local authority £47,536.

Coun Payne is due to discuss the issue on Thursday at 10am in the civic centre, in Victoria Road.