A bid to charge the borough’s bowlers up to £60 a year to play on public greens has been met with fury by league officials.
Hyndburn council’s ten bowling greens – used by around 500 bowlers – are currently free, but it has been proposed to introduce an annual fee of £55-£60, to meet a shortfall in council finances.
Hyndburn council said talks with bowlers, attended by cabinet member for leisure Coun Ken Moss, were part of a consultation in relation to sports facilities, to discuss future bowls provision.
David Waterhouse, chairman of the Hyndburn District Bowling League, hit out at the plans.
He said: “It’s totally mad asking pensioners to pay £60, many of them can’t afford that. Everyone at the AGM was of the same opinion, that it’s just not feasible. We’re happy to pay a charge - but not this amount.
“We only bowl from April to about the second week in September, that’s £10 a month. A lot of the players and members go out for the social part of it. But does this mean to say that anyone who wants an odd game has to pay £60?”
David, 75, added: “It’s not a sensible proposal. We know budgets are tight but there must be another answer. I don’t know if we’ll still have a league if this goes through.
“I’m really mad about it. It seems like they want to hammer the old folks in Hyndburn over this.”
The annual fee would cover the cost of ground maintenance which the council has said costs upwards of £30,000 a year – or £3,000 per green.
Mike Dickinson, chairman of the Oak Hill Park Veterans bowling club, said the proposal would ‘rob’ many senior citizens of ‘one of the few pleasures they have in later life’ if implemented.
He added: “This proposed charge will put it beyond the budgets of many. This isn’t just a leisurely pastime. For many who use the greens, this is their only means of social life, keeping active and staying healthy.”
The proposals were raised at Hyndburn’s crown green bowling league AGM in December.
A Hyndburn council spokesperson said: “Bowls provision in general was discussed and in light of the government grant to fund local councils being reduced, possible ways to save money was also discussed.
“The bowlers put forward some suggestions which will be considered along with others by cabinet during the budget-setting process.”