The 2017 Fleetwood Bowls Festival continued today – but under a cloud of growing uncertainty over its future.
The committee running the event, several of whom are from out of the area, will tell spectators and bowlers on finals day tomorrow of their decision to stand down leaving a void, which is unclear at this stage how it can be filled.
But it is clear that it will need an influx of new blood to give the festival, where the main venue is the Wyre Council-run Marine Gardens, a chance to continue in the long term.
The number of Festival entries has dropped sharply this year, continuing a trend.
Pat Roscoe, chair of the Festival organisers and past winner of the women’s title, said: “The numbers of bowlers entering is dwindling. We don’t seem to be getting the bread-butter bowlers anymore that we used to in the past, and it’s just the top bowlers.
“With 87 ladies paying an entry fee of £8 each, that brings in just under £700, but the total prize money is £1,700, which we need to find There are 177 men paying £10 to enter – that brings in £1,770 in entry fees, but the men’s prize money is £2,800. Wyre Borough Council used to give us four greens at the Marine Gardens, but now we only have one and it is not in the condition that we would want it to be.
“The committee will be making an announcement about standing down on Friday; the treasurer is also finishing as well and that is a massive job to fill.”
Mrs Roscoe said that there had also problems regarding toilet facilities on the site where bowls was played.
She added: “I have been the chair for 10 years and I love everything about the Festival, so it will be sad if it goes. I am from Wigan and Brenda Jones, the secretary, is from Sandbach; we are both from out of town and we have done the job without any expenses, but it is getting increasingly hard to organise. We need to let people know of our decision tomorrow because people want to book their accommodation for next year already. If someone comes in and wants to take our place, then that would be brilliant and we would wish them the best of luck, but we will have to wait and see.”
Emily Wareing, engagement and communications officer at Wyre Council, said: “The number of greens at the Marine Gardens was reduced from four to two a number of years ago and the Festival were aware of the decision. We provide a space for the festival to meet, free of charge, for regular meetings and officers attend, should they have any issues or queries to raise and so far we have not been informed of any. The festival also have an agreement in place where they can use bowling greens at the Marine Gardens and Memorial Park free of charge. There are also public toilets adjacent to Marine Hall that can be used.”