The future of Watford Bowls Club looked increasingly worrying as plans to redevelop Woodside Playing Fields were given the green light for consultation.
The bowling club is not part of the plans, as Watford Borough Council and the bowls club remain locked in a legal dispute over a new lease.
Members of the club are becoming increasingly concerned about both the future of their club and the way the council is willing to cut off a service used by hundreds of residents.
Watford Bowls Club member Sue Judge said: “What’s infuriated us is that the company are called ‘Everyone Active’.
“I’m all for having these facilities for young people, but they are depriving the older generation of a very very vital part of their lives.
“Some people at the club don’t see other people apart from at bowls. They look forward to that company and that social aspect and if the club isn’t there, these people won’t have that anymore.”
The council had previously offered the bowls club a five year lease, with a three year break clause, but the bowls club claimed that was not good enough.
Additionally, the club claims that the council had charged far higher than the going rate for rent for a long time.
At the beginning of the lease period in 1991, the club was charged in excess of £40,000 a year for rent.
After 2006, the council agreed to review the costs after the club was struggling to meet the demands, with the club paying what it could of the fee and the council apparently happy to write off any extra unpaid rent.
Audrey Watts from the bowling club said: “We have an expert witness who suggested that £23,000 was a fair amount for us to be paying.
“We feel like they’ve been ripping us off, not the other way round.
“Now they’ve said that we have £200,000 unpaid rent and they have applied to have us evicted.”
Elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor said of the development: “The council is committed to providing quality leisure facilities for the people of Watford. This new contract and the level of funding we are investing will see us delivering the excellent, modern facilities the town wants.
“My aim is to encourage and enable as many people as possible to lead active, healthy lives. This major development of our leisure centres is part of that.”
Picture courtesy of Hoss Photography