THE verdict is in on council proposals to raise bowling fees, as bowlers across Bolton continue to protest the changes.

Earlier this week, town hall chiefs issued options to bowling clubs using council-run greens across the borough in a bid to reduce running costs by £67,000.

The package of proposals include an increase of permits to use council greens from £25 for the summer season to £65 per person.

After the proposals emerged, outraged bowlers said the change in fees to £65 would be unaffordable for many, potentially leading to the downfall of entire teams.

On Thursday, bowlers from across Lancashire banded together at an emergency meeting to plan their response, voicing concerns that the changes could mark the end of the sport in the borough.

At the meeting, the secretary of Lancashire Country Crown Green Bowling Association, John Andrews, said: “I think it is absolutely ridiculous. Are they going to start charging kids to play in the park?”

Bolton Parks Veterans Amateur Bowling Association chairman Chris Barnes said: “Most people are talking about packing it in, they just will not pay.”

Moss Bank players Ray Forrest and Peter Clinton also oppose the changes.

Mr Forrest said: “It is a total disgrace, it is discrimination against the pensioners.”

Mr Clinton said the loss of the sport could pose health risks to its players, saying: “After I had a heart attack, bowling was recommended, it’s low-impact exercise for the lower body.

"It cuts down on the need for the NHS."

The leader of Bolton Council says that the proposals are necessary.

Cllr David Greenhalgh said: “We always said that this was an activity we wanted to keep in Bolton but that there might just be different ways of delivering the service.

“I’m really pleased that the options on the table would see every club still having a bowling green. We don’t want to lose any of the clubs in this town.

“Bowling greens have always been in the council’s remit and it’s right that should continue.”

But other players are wondering if the fees proposed will be value for money.

Sonia Forrest, leader of Moss Bank Ladies Bowling Club, said: “We have got 28 players and people who come to watch but we have only got one toilet. Our greens are often only cut once a week.

“It is not as if we are paying fees and have good facilities. What are we paying for?”

All bowling clubs in the borough have been approached with the proposals and a drop-in session for representatives will also be held on February 3.

A survey is also available at