LENNOX Bowlo members plead for 'stay of execution'
MEMBERS of the Lennox Head Bowls and Sports Club on Thursday night voted to ask Ramsgate RSL Memorial Club for a six-month "stay of execution" for the struggling bowlo.
With about 500 people in attendance, there was little trouble in getting the constitutionally required 100 members' signatures for the motion which would allow the club to stay open over the peak Christmas and January trading period.
Ramsgate announced this week the club would close on Monday, citing continued financial losses - including $490,000 in the last financial year - for the decision.
The Ramsgate board has yet to vote on the motion to allow the club to stay open for six months, but has confirmed a commitment to trying to help the club.
Lennox Head men's bowling club treasurer and former secretary-manager of the Lennox club, George Bowden, said a six-month moratorium on the closure would allow the club to improve its trading over the peak Christmas period, and also give the members time to come up with a plan to secure the future of the club.
The Lennox Head club amalgamated with Ramsgate six years ago.
Some Lennox members at the meeting complained of mismanagement of the club by Ramsgate, questioning why, if the club was losing money, was $450,000 spent on air-conditioning, $90,000 on an upgrade to the poker machine area and $40,00 on upgrades to the bar, as well as upgrades to the car park in the past six years.
Others questioned whether Ramsgate only wanted to amalgamate with the Lennox club as a way of gaining more poker machine licences.
Mr Bowden, who was secretary-manger of the Lennox club from 2001 through to the amalgamation, had overseen a massive turnaround in the financial performance of the bowlo.
He said patronage was the key.
Bowling club identity, known as Tiger, told the gathering "if we had this many people here every Thursday, we wouldn't be in this situation".
Ballina Shire Council's general manager, Paul Hickey, confirmed the land was council-owned and classed as "community land" so it couldn't be sold.
He said the lease with Ramsgate would require them to maintain the site even if the club closes, but the bowling greens wouldn't have to be maintained to a playing standard.
The Lennox Head Lions Club launched a fighting fund with a $1000 donation, and will be fundraising at Sunday's Lennox Head market.
A Save Lennox Bowling Club Facebook page has been set up.
An advisory committee from Lennox Head will meet with Ramsgate representatives next week.