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Rising costs forces bowls club to fold after 21 years
A ONCE-popular bowls club has been forced to fold at the end of the season due to dwindling membership and rising running costs.
Padbrook Park Indoor Bowls Club will play its last game at the Cullompton hotel and country club in April, more than 21 years after it was founded in March 1992.
Despite membership costing an annual £75, on top of fees of £3.50 to play in each game, chairman Alan Hext said declining numbers over the years means the club can no longer afford the annual £24,000 rent to remain at the venue.
“The club as it is will have to fold,” said Mr Hext, 75, a retired police officer from Cullompton.
“What else can we do? Sadly, this has been going on for five years.
“A lot of people who play bowls in the town play elsewhere or don't like to play indoors.
“Our members are all 50 plus - one is 90 and still playing - and a lot of them are on fixed incomes so they just cannot afford it anymore.”
Padbrook Park director Gary Scargill said he had tried to help the club to survive by allowing members to pay nominal rent fees since he took over the business a decade ago.
“We inherited them, we did not create them and all we ever did was try to support them,” he said.
“Of course we are sad for them, especially in this financial climate. It is just a sign of the times, everyone is struggling.”
Mr Scargill added that the bowls rink is still open to the public and will undergo a refurbishment when it closes over the summer in time for reopening for the new indoor season in September.