A BATTLE between the Ballina Croquet Club and the Ballina Bowling Club has escalated after a request to supply water to a patch of distressed turf at the croquet club was turned down by the bowlers.
Ballina Bowling Club committee member Ken Clarke admitted the ploy to deny water to the croquet club was designed to pressure its stubborn committee to come to the bargaining table regarding a long-running dispute over maintenance fees and the future of the club’s valuable lease.
The situation came to a head last week after the croquet club hired a Gold Coast company to scarify one of their lawns.
A request to have the sensitive grass watered by the bowling club was at first refused. However, Mr Clarke said the vulnerable greens were being watered in the interim.
Croquet club president Mary Hughes said the dispute merely highlighted the bullying tactics used by the bowling club to get their own way.
The war began after an amalgamation of the two clubs in 2007, in which the bowling club built new facilities for the croquet players to the tune of $329,000.
In return it was expected the tea and wine sipping croquet players would embrace their beer drinking brothers.
Not so, said Mrs Hughes, with green fees rising 300 per cent almost immediately – from $2 a game to $5 and then $6.
“A lot of our members are elderly and can’t afford that sort of cost rise,” she said.
In August Mrs Hughes and her committee formerly seceded from the bowling club, claiming their independence and demanding they retain title to their Crown land lease.
“This is about retaining rights for public recreation.” she said.
“We are not a business.”
But Mr Clarke said the bowling club demanded their name remain on the lease, in order to write down their investment in the croquet club – which he says totals about half a million dollars.
The final decision on that matter rests with Minister for Lands Tony Kelly.
Meanwhile, a battle looms on the cost of maintaining the croquet greens.
The bowling club has sent an invoice for work it has carried out, citing $1734.47 for the month of December.
The croquet club committee beg to differ and estimate the work at just $293, which is in line with other croquet clubs throughout the State.
“That is utter nonsense,” Mr Clarke said.
“It all depends to what standard the green is maintained. We kept it to international standard. Perhaps if it was a footy field those costs might be accurate.
“But we are happy to renegotiate and come to some middle ground.”