Welwyn Garden City bowls players claim they were bullied by council contractors

PUBLISHED: 11:00 25 September 2011

Bowls players at King George V Playing Fields

Bowls players at King George V Playing Fields

ELDERLY bowls players have lashed council contractors after they claim to have been “bullied” into cleaning toilets and manning an admission office at their bowls green.

Elsie Anderson, secretary of WGC’s Parkside Bowls Club, spoke out at a meeting of Welwyn Hatfield Council last week.

She accused Finesse Leisure, which is paid thousands of pounds a year to maintain two bowling greens at King George V Playing Fields, of thinking they could “bully and push around groups of senior citizens to bend their will and make them do what they wanted”.

In a strongly-worded address Ms Anderson said how pensioners had manned the bowls office for “seven days a week since April”.

She said: “It has been very hard work, because you cannot run an office and play bowls at the same time.”

And speaking to the WHT, Cliff Rogers, president of the Welwyn Hatfield Bowls League, said the players had been threatened with the closure of the facilities unless they kept the site clean and manned the cash desk.

Mr Rogers also said OAPs were asked to clean the toilets – an allegation Finesse Leisure denied.

A joint statement from Welwyn Hatfield Council and Finesse Leisure said how the council has had to make “substantial cost savings”.

It added: “Bowling is a relatively expensive service to provide for quite a low number of users.

“In fact the level of annual subsidy for each person bowling regularly during the summer at KGV was estimated to be around £1,000.

“Finesse and the council agreed that this level of subsidy was not sustainable in the current economic climate and therefore we met with the bowling groups in order to consider ways in which the costs could be reduced whilst still maintaining services.

“The agreement that we reached was that the bowlers would provide volunteers to replace the summer attendant at the bowls pavilion which was typically costing Finesse £17,000 to provide.”

On the allegation that they were told to clean toilets the statement read: “The bowlers were not asked to clean the toilets as part of their voluntary agreement, however they were asked to report any issues such as unclean toilet facilities to Finesse, who then dealt with such matters directly.”

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