Bowlers angry as Hebburn hub snub looks set to leave them homeless

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A South Tyneside bowling club could be homeless within weeks – after failing to strike a deal with council chiefs for a spot in a multi-million pound community centre.

Hebburn Community Association Bowling Club will be turfed out of Hebburn Community Centre when the Argyle Street building closes its doors 
next month.

We feel badly let down by the council

Les Waters

But the club, which has more than 40 members and has been in operation for 32 years, has been told there is no room for it at the new £12million community hub, Hebburn Central, which will open later this year.

The two-storey building will include a six-lane swimming pool, a learner pool, fitness suite, sports hall, dance studio, soft play area, library, learning centre and cafe, as well as meeting rooms and a customer service centre – but no room for bowlers to continue a decades-long affair with the game.

Les Waters, a member of the club since it was launched, said he feels ‘badly let down’ by South Tyneside Council.

The 70-year-old said: “We have asked if we can stay on at the community centre for another season but have been told it is not possible. We have had two applications for lottery funding turned down.

“The worry is that once the centre closes, members will find other clubs elsewhere. We feel badly let down by the council.

He says the club has been unable to find another suitable venue, while lottery funding had been earmarked to create a bowling facility at Clegwell Community Association in Hebburn.

A South Tyneside Council spokesman said: “Hebburn Central forms part of our ambitious plans to revitalise the town centre.

“The council carried out extensive consultation. This has ranged from public information drop-in sessions to discussions at community area forums.

“The proposals were also subject to the statutory planning process, which provided a further opportunity for people to have their say.

“Since starting work on Hebburn Central, we have been working with the bowling club to help them find alternative facilities elsewhere in the borough.

“A number of options were identified. However, these were rejected by the group due to their location outside Hebburn.

“Hebburn Central is the result of a long-standing aim to give local people facilities fit for the 21st century.”