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Wisbech Indoor Bowls Club is bowled out of Hudson Centre by new leisure management firm

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They haven't even started running Fenland's four leisure centres yet but already the firm appointed to run them is causing controversy by telling Wisbech Indoor Bowls Club they will have to go.

Flashback to when Wisbech Indoor Bowls Club was relaunched in January 2016. (4184768)
Flashback to when Wisbech Indoor Bowls Club was relaunched in January 2016. (4184768)

The club, which only held its winter season launch two weeks ago, was told in a letter to chairman Peter Human on Tuesday (11) it is "anticipated this will be the final season that the club is able to use the Hudson".

Peter, who is currently Wisbech mayor, said he is fuming at the way the club has been treated and said they had been trying to negotiate a new lease since January last year.

Wisbech Rose Gala Evening. Pictured Wibech Town Mayor Peter Human.. (2896376)
Wisbech Rose Gala Evening. Pictured Wibech Town Mayor Peter Human.. (2896376)

But he said he was not surprised as they were only able to get a short term agreement and he is "very very annoyed" by the way, the club, which has around 150 members has been treated.

He said the club has recently spent over £800 having the bowls carpets cleaned and said it allows schools and other organisations to use its facilities.

He said the club, which was relaunched in January 2016 following previous financial difficulties, is now viable and draws players from across the district.

Fenland District Council has sold the lease on its leisure centres to Freedom Leisure, who are set to take over running them from December 4.

In his letter to Peter, Phil Hughes, the council's head of leisure services, explains part of the contract with Freedom Leisure involves making the centres including the Hudson financially viable in the long term, as well as becoming a more attractive community asset used by many more people from the Wisbech area.

He continues: "Although we do not currently have firm dates, I anticipate that this will be the final season that the bowls club is able to use the Hudson. I know that this will be a big disappointment to your committee and club membership, however, the wider community benefits of this change are overwhelmingly positive for the Wisbech community."

But Peter said: "We have been told Freedom is a not for profit organisation, that it is a community enterprise, but where is its community spirit when it does something like this.

"Our club is busy all week and it is not just our members who benefit, we have disabled people, school children and other groups all using our facilities - that is community."

A council spokesman said: "In 2017 FDC discussed and agreed a short term lease with Wisbech Indoor Bowls Club until December 31 2018. The length of the lease was due to the ongoing leisure centre procurement project and the uncertainty regarding the long term future of the bowls facility.

"As part of the new leisure contract, we are working with Freedom Leisure towards a handover on the 4th December of the operation and management of the centres.

"We have written to the bowls club and are keen to meet with their committee members and identify how we can work together to provide support moving forward."

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