Evicted Wimbledon bowls club's plea for survival
This weekend’s demise of a bowls club was part of a cynical “cover up” to smooth the way for controversial school expansion plans, it has been argued.
Members of Wandgas Bowls club, which dates back nearly 100 years, said they would fight to protect their green at Dundonald recreation ground, next to Dundonald Primary School, which Merton Council wants to expand.
The club will be homeless from September 30 after the council said it would no longer fund the maintenance of the green.
Club member James Delaney said: “Myself and other members of the club and residents are determined to save this facility.
“We hope we will have the assistance of Bowls England and Sport England who are both very keen to preserve local sport facilities.”
As a statutory consultee, Sport England’s objections to the council’s plans could destroy what is seen as a vital primary school expansion.
A Sport England spokesman said: “Playing fields are key resources for the whole community, and safeguarding sports provision is vital if we are to get more people of all ages playing and enjoying sport.
“We have made an objection to an application to build upon Dundonald Recreation Ground by Merton Council. We continue to discuss this matter with the applicant.”
Councillor David Dean, who represents Dundonald ward, said: “This is deeply cynical and the council has clean forgotten what its role is – to provide services to the people of Merton.
“The council spends more than half a billion pounds a year.
“The total annual cost of maintaining bowling greens and parks across the whole borough is less than half a per cent of that amount.”
Councillor Martin Whelton, Merton’s cabinet member for education, said: “We think the facilities available to sports users as a result of the development will actually be significantly enhanced.
“That includes the changing room facilities, but it also provides the opportunity for more hard courts, a multi-use games area and green [outdoor] gym.
“We believe that the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages in enhancing school and sport facilities.”