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Ryedale Indoor Bowls Club’s future in question
THE future of a Ryedale bowls club could hang in the balance if a new tenant cannot be found to move into part of its building.
Ryedale Indoor Bowls Club only survived when its rent was halved by Ryedale District Council earlier this year, but has been losing members and has surrendered the lease on its Norton base.
The authority says the club is now effectively receiving a public subsidy of almost £30,000 a year, because of the difference between what it pays and the “market rent” for the building, and this cannot continue.
Councillors will next week be asked whether to approve searching for a tenant for the part of the building which the club says it no longer needs or to simply move ahead with selling the site, which could raise about £400,000 but would leave the club’s survival in doubt.
A report by corporate director Paul Cresswell said the council had bought the building for £50,000 in 1997 and granted the bowls club a 25-year lease with annual rent of £37,500, while it also had to pay £3,000 a year for the next ten years to cover the cost of fixtures and fittings. However, when the payments were reviewed in 2003, the club’s accounts showed “an ever-increasing loss” and the rent levels were frozen. They were reduced to £20,000 a year in 2006, but the rent was cut again to £10,000 a year in March.
In the report, it says: “Without the recent reduction in rent, the club would have already folded. The club would prefer to only occupy part of the building and it is currently proposed that, at the end of this financial year, they will be given the right to take a lease of only part of the building. It is essential that some form of marketing takes place sooner rather than later to achieve full occupation.”
Mr Cresswell’s report said allowing the club, which now has 156 members, to occupy one section of the building so it can cut its operating costs and pegging its annual rent at £10,000 would allow it to survive, and its closure would be a “reputational” risk to the council. One proposal on the table at next week’s meeting is to market the vacant area of the building and only look at selling the site if a suitable tenant does not come forward.
However, councillors will also be asked to consider whether to begin talks with the club about selling the building without having first looked for a new tenant.