MEMBERS of Cross Hands and District Bowls Club fear projected county council charges could spell the death knell for the sport as youngsters will be unable to afford the fees.
Under the proposals, the cost of coaching youngsters would be £5.60 a head – previously it was free of charge. "You are depriving these children of the opportunity to play sport," club treasurer Cliff Averill, told the Guardian.
The charges would also see the current price for an adult season ticket rise from £102 to £153 in 2014/15, £200 the following years and £322 in 2016/17.
A junior season ticket would rise from £30 this year, to £42 in 2014/15, £54 the following years and £70 in 2016/17.
"We've given up our time free of charge to coach youngsters up to 60 youngsters but now we're going to have to knock that on the head," said Mr Averill.
"I'm simply dreading going to see local headteachers to tell them that there will be no coaching of schoolchildren this year."
Chairman Ken Llewellyn said: "Coaching is the only way to get youngsters into the club, but parents are not going to pay that sort of money.
"These charges are bound to have a knock-on effect – vandalism in Cross Hands Park has gone down to almost nothing since we started coaching the local kids."
The club, based at the Cross Hands Recreation Ground, was reformed in 1989 and currently has 52 members.
Club secretary John Burrington said the county council's approach seemed directly at odds with the Government's campaign to increase childhood fitness.
"They say kids should play sport to reduce obesity and everything and then they go and pull the rug out from under our feet," he added.
A county council spokeswoman said: "We have been very clear – in our reports; in response to face-to-face meetings, media stories and direct enquiries, as well as in our detailed information pack – that the figures quoted for 2015-16 and 2016-17 are not set in stone; that they will be reviewed annually based on actual expenditure of the previous year, and that they are likely to be less than what was originally projected due to significant savings in staff costs.
"We are very keen to continue conversations we are having across the county to protect and develop sporting clubs, as we value the role they play in the health and wellbeing of people and communities. However, with unprecedented budget pressures we are simply no longer in a position to subsidise them.
"Ideally, we would like organisations, and town and community councils, to take full control of running their own pitches and facilities, as failing that the only alternative is that they meet the actual cost of maintenance.
“We are implementing a flat rate fee for greens regardless of whether they are used for a match or for training, as both require the same amount of maintenance. This decision has been made as part of the wider picture of charges for sporting facilities across the county, where the council is no longer able to subsidise the cost of maintenance.”