A RALLYING call has gone out to members and users of Ryedale Indoor Bowls Club to fight the decision to sell the site.

Barrie and Pat Elener, who regularly hold charity dances at the venue, say they are outraged by the move which will effect hundreds of users, including clubs and community groups.

“This is not a car park, it’s a bowls club, unique to this area, providing indoor bowling facilities for the people of Malton, Norton and Ryedale,” said Barrie.

“There are eight rinks, changing rooms, licensed bar, restaurant, large function room with good-sized dance floor, office and a smaller meeting room, apart from bowls, which is a completely separate game to the outdoor variety and has its own county and national organisations.”

Barrie added that the club was used for a number of community activities by a diverse group of people.

“Ryedale district councillors who made the decision to sell the club do not appear to have regarded any of these activities as being worth giving real thought to,” he said.

“It is almost as though they only regard the club and the land it is built on as a means of raising, what is to the council, a very small amount of money.

“When it comes to making such decisions, should not all councillors, and especially those in the Tory group who voted to, in reality, close the club, have made every effort to establish all the relevant facts?”

Barrie added: “Will all councillors, especially those who voted to sell the club, agree that maybe they were a bit hasty and should at least visit the club as a group and look at the facilities they have chosen to close?”

He said the club had already been badly affected by reports of the council’s decision.

“This situation needs to be turned around quickly. Come on Ryedale district councillors, get the full facts and open the debate again. There are other options,” said Barrie.

“We would urge all members and the host of other people throughout Ryedale to support the fight to keep the club open for the benefit of all who may wish to use the club in the future.”

The club’s catering manager, Julie Copland, who employs five part-time workers, said she had already had people cancelling bookings.

“We want people to know that the club is still open for business and we are doing all we can to fight the closure – no-one wants to see it close,” she said.

“The council really haven’t thought about the effect this is going to have on lots of people. To say we are just running a subsidised café here is scandalous.”

Town mayor and newly-elected Norton West Ward Councillor for Ryedale District Council, Di Keal, said: “This is another example of the Tory group at Ryedale District Council asset-stripping Norton at the expense of local residents.

“All members really value the bowls club and for some it is a lifeline giving them an opportunity to socialise and keep fit at the same time.

“For the wider community, this will remove the largest venue in Norton used by many local groups and for events from conferences to wedding receptions.

“One of the first questions I am asking as a newly-elected district councillor is how much effort went into finding a partner organisation to expand activities even more at the club and ensure it’s future?

“I would also encourage local people to stand by the club – it is still open for business until March 2013 – while the fight will go on to try to keep the doors open.”