BOWLERS are having to throw their bowls instead of rolling them because Bolton greens are “unfit for purpose”, members claim.

Club members from across the town have formed a Bolton District League Action Group, in anger at the condition of the Bolton Council maintained greens.

Kevan Latham, of Astley Bridge Bowling Club, said members have had to take maintaining the greens into their own hands and said “most of the pitches are unplayable”.

The 68-year-old added: “They have been neglected for a number of years and have not been looked after properly.

“The council just mow them, there is no weed, moss, or feeding maintenance being done.

“There is no skill involved anymore either because players have to throw the bowls across the pitch because they won’t roll over the grass.

“They are in a terrible state.”

Bolton Council has reduced its spending on the maintenance of bowling greens and pavilions from £235,000 in 2013 to £200,000 in 2016.

A 40 per cent cut has also been made since 2010 to the resources available for green maintenance.

The cuts have caused a reduction from three teams of two people maintaining the grounds, to two teams of two and a decrease in cutting the pitches from three times a week to five time a fortnight.

However, despite the drop Bolton Council said it “still provides a significant resource to the bowling green service”.

Mr Latham of Heaton added: “We are so angry.

“The bowling clubs are a meeting place for elderly and many of them are struggling to play because they don’t have the strength to be throwing the bowls.

“We are also always wanting to attract younger people to join the sport but why would they want to with the state of the greens?

“We pay our council tax for facilities like this.

“I really do fear that we are going to lose our bowling greens by the end of this year.

Paul Pover, of Astley Bridge Park Veterans Bowling Club said that the sport is "not enjoyable anymore" and is causing players "great discomfort to play".

A spokesman for Bolton Council said: “We have received a number of inquiries from clubs, individuals and councillors about the condition of the bowling greens this year.

“The mild winter with extremely high rainfall has affected summer sports facilities and particularly bowling greens.

“While we have had to reduce the number of teams and the mowing frequency, we still provide a significant resource to the bowling green service.

“As a result of concerns raised by users of a number of greens, the executive cabinet member for Environmental Services, Councillor Peel, has asked officers to prepare a report him to explore various mid to long term options for the future maintenance of bowling facilities and greens.

“A future meeting will then be arranged with the various leagues based in the borough.”