A BOURNEMOUTH bowls club may be forced to close later this year after 80 years.

Declining membership and a withdrawal of council funding are behind proposals to shut the Redhill Park Bowls Club in November.

Unusually, bowlers based at Redhill must also open their clubhouse toilets to members of the public, leading to expensive water bills.

Committee member Les Hewitt said the cost of maintaining the green and the clubhouse has led to troubles for the club.

“For the past five or six years we’ve had to bear financial responsibility because of the government cuts,” he said.

“Previously, the council owned 11 clubs in Bournemouth, including Redhill.

“Greenkeepers’ fees aren’t cheap - of course, the greens have to be maintained during the winter as well as the summer.

“It’s around £9,000 a year for that alone to be done.”

A further £1,300 to £1,500 a year is spent on the water bill, he said.

“We have a sprinkler system, which is costly in terms of bills, but we also have to keep the toilets open to the public,” he said.

“It was a requirement for us to keep them open. There’s a very popular park with a paddling pool next to us so in the summertime we can get lots of people wanting to use them.”

Council-run toilets at Redhill were shut down some time ago due to vandalism.

Mr Hewitt said: “We’re paying for toilet facilities that are used by a lot of people who aren’t members of the club.

“The public toilets were demolished. There’s really nothing we can do about it - if people want to come in and use our facilities, they can, but it has had an impact on our expenses.”

A drop in membership is also responsible for the proposed closure, Mr Hewitt said.

“Unfortunately, bowls is in decline everywhere,” he said.

“Younger people just aren’t joining bowls clubs anymore. There are too many other things for them to do and they’re not choosing to join up.

“Numbers are dwindling and that has a big impact.”