Gunnersbury Park Bowling Club 'To Be Kicked Out'

Claim made that move is prompted by project delays on sports facility

Gunnersbury Park Bowling Club
Gunnersbury Park Bowling Club. Picture: Visit Gunnersbury

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December 2, 2019

Gunnersbury Park Bowling Club is under threat of closure as with members saying the park's management are reneging on a deal to protect the club.

The Gunnersbury Park Community Interest Company (CIC) had originally given verbal assurances to club members that they valued the continued presence of the club which is at the centre of a massive sports facility development in the park. The CIC said that they wanted to expand the general public’s use of the green.

Now it is claimed that financial penalties resulting from construction delays have prompted the park’s management to take steps to remove the club which has been there since 1931 and replace it with another activity that will generate more income.

Club member Bela Cunha says, “Now the sports hall is running massively late and needs more money (were late-finishing penalties not included in the building contract?) and CIC have decided to kick out the bowls club to replace it with a secret sporting activity to produce revenue. CIC refuse to reveal what the secret activity is or explain why there is such a need for secrecy. The bowls club did not cost the councils a penny; members looked after everything, including the upkeep of the green. Yet we are the sacrificial lamb, in another example of CIC short-sighted short-termism. They claim our site is just right for the secret activity, but is it really believable that, had there been any goodwill or readiness to look for another alternative, there is nowhere else in the park that could accommodate it? “

The club is closed for the winter and would normally be scheduled to reopen in April. It is open to all ages and caters to both competitive and leisure bowling. Those interested in joining are invited to play for 2-3 weeks before making a decision.

Club nights took place on Wednesdays at 4.00pm until around 6.00pm. Members have the opportunity to practice their game, enjoy some social bowling, and instruction is available.

The club also arranges games midweek and on Saturdays and Sundays, along with club competitions.

Bela Cunha describes the CIC as ‘strangers to transparency’ adding, “When/if this venture fails to generate the required revenue and packs up and leaves the park, the bowling green cannot be restored. Bowling was the one activity in the park for the older members of the community; the bowling club was for many years the place where we stayed active, socialised with friends and held competitions with other local clubs”

We have been unable to reach office holders at the club for comment.

The CIC issued a press statement saying, "As a Community Interest Community our key object is to engage with local residents so the greatest number of people possible can enjoy the park.

"While we recognise the long history of the Bowls Club in the park, we cannot ignore the relatively small and declining numbers who have exclusive use of the facility.

"Therefore, we are exploring new uses for the Bowls Green and Pavilion area so it can provide a greater benefit for the wider community, and contribute revenue to the on-going management and improvement of the park."

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