Bowling club plagued by yobs is forced to drop out of the league

From left: Councillor Keith Hutson with Wellesley Park Bowling club members Peter Fleming, John Crowther and Connie Jenkins by the graffiti-covered clubhouse. Below: John Stewart with broken fencing members claim is letting the yobs in
From left: Councillor Keith Hutson with Wellesley Park Bowling club members Peter Fleming, John Crowther and Connie Jenkins by the graffiti-covered clubhouse. Below: John Stewart with broken fencing members claim is letting the yobs in

A BOWLING club plagued by yobs has been forced to call it a day.

Wellesley Park Bowling Club, Halifax, is withdrawing its evening teams from the league after years of vandalism and abuse at their green.

John Stewart by the damaged tennis court fence with grafitti on the pavillion at Wellesley Bowling Club.

John Stewart by the damaged tennis court fence with grafitti on the pavillion at Wellesley Bowling Club.

Member John Stewart, 49, said illnesses and difficulty attracting new players had left the club with no other choice.

He said: “We’ve been lucky to survive this long and now the inevitable has happened.

“Getting no help to stop the vandalism has deterred anybody from wanting to come up to the club.

“They like to go to greens where they are playable and they are going to enjoy a game.”

He said calls for help from the council had fallen on deaf ears.

“We’ve been knocked back at every stage,” he said.

“Due to the fact it’s a council-run green we’ve not been able to apply for grants, and the council have always said they haven’t got any money in the pot.”

Club veterans plan to run a daytime team for as long as possible.

“When the vets decide they can no longer carry on this will end all bowling at Wellesley Park,” said Mr Stewart.

“There are a lot of disappointed people. We were bowling together for quite a few years and you have that rapport.

“We had a laugh whether we won or lost and quite a few people are upset at having to find other clubs.

“It just won’t be the same because you lose that friendship.”

The Courier first reported on problems at the club in 2007, when vandals tore down fencing and damaged the pavillion doors.

Since then, players - many of them elderly - have been harrassed by yobs in their teens and early twenties, who have regularly invaded the green, shouted abuse and stolen balls.

Police even had to be called to a game to disperse them in August 2010, but it did not deter them, and they have continued to plaster the clubhouse walls with graffiti and taunt players.

Last summer, the Courier witnessed one thug yell “this is our turf” at the veterans.

Keith Hutson (Lib Dem, Warley) said meetings had been held with police and community leaders to try to solve the problem.

He said: “I’m sad to see them go from the evening league and I hope they continue to play there in the daytime for as long as possible.

“We will continue to work to alleviate the problems they were experiencing.”