Budget 2015/16: Peterborough bowls clubs saved after city council reverses budget proposal

Itter Park bowls green, off Fulbridge Road in Peterborough. EMN-150402-141633009

Itter Park bowls green, off Fulbridge Road in Peterborough. EMN-150402-141633009

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Pleas to save Peterborough’s bowls greens threatened with closure as part of the city council’s budget plans have brought clubs a late reprieve with none to be shut in the next year.

Peterborough City Council has agreed to not close any of the city’s seven greens after a strong campaign from concerned players.

Four of the greens were due for closure in the first phase of the council’s 2015/16 budget proposals to tackle its £25.2 million deficit.

However, extensive lobbying led to the council’s Conservative-run cabinet deferring the planned closures.

The proposals were finally shelved on Tuesday after a series of meetings between members of the bowling community and Councillor Gavin Elsey, cabinet member for street scene, waste management and communications.

The closure of four bowls greens and the grass tennis courts at Central and Itter parks would have saved the council £36,000 a year.

The tennis courts are also set to stay open.

Discussions will now take place to see if the cost of maintaining the bowling greens can be reduced in the coming year.

If not, the money needed to be found by the council will be covered by its risk management contingency fund.

Cllr Elsey said: “I gave members of the bowling community my word that I would work with them and do everything in my power to find a way to make the savings that we needed without impacting on bowling in the city.

“I have been hugely encouraged and impressed by the professionalism members have shown and their sympathy with the financial situation that we face.”

Barrie Allen, secretary at the Itter Park Mixed Bowls Club, had not expected to hear the good news when he met Cllr Elsey on Monday evening.

He said: “It was a great relief and a very pleasant surprise. We are very grateful and would like to give our thanks in no small measure.We might face a similar situation in a year’s time but conversations will keep going.”

Cllr Nick Sandford, leader of the council’s Liberal Democrat group, added: “We are often critical of the Conservative administration for ignoring what we say, but you have to give them credit here.”

Have your say on the budget

The Budget Conversation continues around the phase two budget proposals. People can take part by visiting the city council’s website at www.peterborough.gov.uk. Included is a link to the budget proposals document and an online questionnaire.

Hard copies of the document and questionnaire are available to collect from Town Hall and Bayard Place receptions and each of the city’s libraries.

The consultation will remain open until 5pm on Monday 2 March 2015. Cabinet will receive periodic updates on the responses, including at its meeting on Monday 23 February 2015.

Full Council will consider the phase two proposals, along with the level of council tax, at its meeting on 4 March 2015.

More on the Budget 2015/16:

Vivacity warning £1.45m cuts threaten Peterborough’s culture and leisure services