Robert Wood: Bowling Centre axe plan left hundreds angry

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It was with extreme disappointment that I learnt of the closure of the Portobello Indoor Bowling Centre on Friday, April 26. This decision was made without any dialogue between Edinburgh Leisure and Portobello Indoor Bowling Club, the centre’s biggest customer.

We at Portobello Indoor Bowling Club have more than 400 members, ranging from primary school children upwards, I am in the mid range at 49!

The game of bowls is a very inclusive game, I can think of no other where you can play against and with people in any age group.

We at PIBC have been working tirelessly to try to build and grow the numbers playing in the area, not an easy task in the current economic climate, I may add. However, this has not detracted from the task and we have an extremely successful Junior Section. They won their league last season at the first attempt and this year added the National Junior pairs title, on the same day they were runners up in the Triples Competition. We have had some of these player trialled for international representation and last year one of our players was selected for the National Under 25 team that played in Nottingham. Our club sides have also had some success, the Ladies team came within 6 shots of being promoted to the Premier League and the Gents team only lost out in the final game for a place in their play-offs for the Premier League. Our Senior Gents team that play on a Wednesday are also very competitive.

The game of indoor bowls in Edinburgh received huge blow when the Edinburgh Indoor Club closed and to lose the facility in Portobello would be devastating for the game, with nowhere to play in the immediate surroundings. Whilst it’s interesting to read that Edinburgh Leisure will be having full consultation on the matter, I find it absurd that a consultation takes place after an announcement. It’s my view that a consultation takes place then an announcement should be made.

There are more to consider than the members of PIBC, there are a number of patrons outwith our club who participate in the Edinburgh Leisure-run leagues and also the disability bowlers who use the centre. In real terms it’s probably more than 600 who regularly use the centre for playing indoor bowls.

As the Scottish Indoor Bowling Association Councillor representing Portobello IBC, we can only put our views across to Edinburgh Leisure and look for a solution to the issues that this decision has impacted on the Portobello Indoor Club and the game of indoor bowls.

• Robert Wood is SIBA Councillor at Portobello IBC