A PETITION has been launched in a new bid to save Ryedale Indoor Bowls Club.

Campaigners are hoping to gather support from the wider community before the next full meeting of Ryedale District Council on March 7.

Club member Terry Wray said they had been encouraged by the turn-out at an open meeting at the club last week and now hoped to gather signatures for the petition which would be presented to council members.

“This is part of a bigger jigsaw and another step we need to take to save the bowls club,” he said.

“The next critical stage will be the full council meeting next month when we hope we can at least buy some time.”

Mr Wray said they were looking to form a group which would re-evaluate the uses of the building, and while retaining it as a bowling club, look at a broader community approach to utilise the facilities.

“The Conservative group needs to look at the facts and form some form of retreat to give the club some time,” he said.

“Once it closes, the club will just become another boarded up building.

“Anyone taking on the building would have to spend a fortune modifying it. It is wishful thinking that they will sell it.”

Members of Ryedale District Council voted to sell the site last September following a report which pointed out that the club’s survival had only been secured by the council halving the annual rent to £10,000.

Coun Luke Ives (Con), a Norton ward member, said that prior to the open meeting, he had not grasped the significance of the club to the local area outside of the bowling community, and there was an unquestionable wider community value.

He said: “However, the unfortunate reality is that the club continues to lose members, make a loss and is on the verge of insolvency. In the words of the chairman himself – it’s skint.

“Even if the council was to make a dramatic u-turn, the club has no future unless we address the underlying issues that have caused the present situation to arise.”

Coun Ives said a new approach was needed to transform the club into the community centre that it preaches to be.

“We need a new management in which all aspects of the community are represented, and surely this will help engage the wider use of the club’s facilities,” he said.

“We need new proposals, ideas and initiatives to help the building achieve its full potential. The club cannot rely on the taxpayer for a bail-out; it must fight to secure its own future.

“In my role as the Conservative ward member, I acknowledge that it is my responsibility to persuade other members of my group to reconsider.

“Before I can do this, the club must first decide how it can secure its long-term future, otherwise it will have no hope at all.”