THE national indoor bowls association has called for a plans to axe the Capital’s only public indoor bowls facility to be reversed amid fears the move will damage the future of the game.
Edinburgh Leisure has announced plans to transform Portobello Indoor Bowls and Leisure Centre on Westbank Street into a gymnastics hub and soft play centre.
It is also pulling the plug on Port Edgar Water Sports Centre from the end of this summer season. The Scottish Indoor Bowling Association said the move would be devastating and would discourage young people from taking up the sport.
Secretary Gordon Woods said: “Indoor bowling throughout Edinburgh has already faced a significant blow when Edinburgh Indoor Bowling Club was closed and it would be similarly devastating to lose the facility at Portobello. Our hope is that Edinburgh Leisure and the council understand the negative impact that this decision will have on the physical and mental well-being of members of the community in Portobello and beyond.”
The association asked Edinburgh Leisure to reconsider the decision and called for a development plan relating to indoor bowling usage to be put in place before a change of usage is considered.
Mr Woods added: “Portobello is in an ideal position to get new members, both in the junior section and adults. There has been strong work in the junior section and it would be a shame if any of that work is thrown away because of this.”
The Westbank Street club is the only facility in Edinburgh where non-members are able to book rink time from as little as £2.30 for pay and play.
Portobello Indoor Bowling Club Junior Section coach Stuart Betts said: “This move is going to affect the number of youngsters taking up indoor bowling. I’ve got two young sons who are at an age where they can go and play bowls by themselves at Portobello. There’s only one other centre in Edinburgh – Bainfield – and it’s a half-hour bus journey away.”
Edinburgh Leisure will enter into a period of consultation with a view to reopening as a gymnastics and soft play centre in the autumn.
Douglas Garry, secretary of Bainfield Indoor Bowling Club, said: “We will certainly open our doors to members who wish to continue.”
A Sportscotland spokesman said: “Edinburgh Leisure has proposed a change of use for Portobello Indoor Bowls and Leisure Centre to meet demand.
“We support the needs of communities through our Community Sport Hubs programme where sustainability and genuine community engagement are key to making it easier for local people to engage in a more active and healthier lifestyle, and there are six operational hubs in Edinburgh.”