A YEAR ago I wrote an open letter regarding the future of indoor bowling at Ashington and the new proposed leisure centre, pointing out the importance of the bowling facilities which have been well used for many years at the present centre.
I mentioned the fact that many men and women from Ashington, Morpeth, Bedlington, Guide Post, Stakeford, Pegswood, Newbiggin, Ellington, Lynemouth, Broomhill, Amble and other areas representing bowling clubs, regularly use the facilities morning, afternoon and evening, in leagues and competitions.
Bowling is a skilled and competitive sport, as well as a social recreation, giving a great amount of pleasure and keeping body and mind fit and active, particularly for many older people.
I also mentioned that in addition, the finances generated by such regular use of the bowling facilities, made it worthy consideration when planning any new leisure centre.
Well time has moved on and the county council planning committee is soon expected to give approval for the building of a new £20m leisure centre on the former Asda supermarket site in Lintonville Terrace, which would replace the centre in Institute Road.
The proposed centre will apparently feature a swimming pool, gymnasium, spa, sports hall, studio space, library registrar service and other items.
The original circulated consultation document also proposed a doctor’s surgery, pharmacy, beautician, optician, chiropodist and dentist, all being services obtained by people in the areas where they already live.
Are all these products still under consideration, bearing in mind that any new centre is surely meant to serve the needs of people from a wider catchment area, not just Ashington?
There are certainly no objections in principle to the new leisure centre, but when the original consultation documents were circulated, strong representation was made regarding the inclusion of bowling facilities in any new proposed leisure centre, views which would appear to have been totally disregarded.
Just who are making these key decisions?
I would have thought that when the new leisure centre was being considered, that the county council would have been the driving force in specifying the main activities to be provided therein and yet they chose not to include indoor bowling facilities or I believe squash, both of which are provided for at the present site.
If they are to be included in future phases at Lintonville Terrace, that would be unexpectedly welcome, but what of the present and near future?
As there will be no bowling facilities in the first phase at the new proposed leisure centre, then what is the immediate future for indoor bowls at Ashington? Will the present leisure centre at Institute Road be totally closed or will provision be made for indoor bowling, and perhaps squash, to continue there? These are specific questions which I would expect the county council to address as a matter of urgency and make clear its intentions as it will impact on many men and women from bowling clubs throughout east Northumberland and beyond.
I intend to write to the county council department dealing with these matters, enclosing a copy of this letter and would hope for a reply clarifying the situation, whereby perhaps useful discussions could take place with bowling representatives of the Ashington Leisure Centre in the near future.