A MUCH-loved bowling club – a vital resource for pensioners - could be under threat due to a council proposal to increase fees.

During winter, Moss Bank Bowling Club is well used by mainly elderly members, many widowers who otherwise may not have many opportunities to get out of the house, to play dominoes and socialise.

But a proposal by Bolton Council to charge  at least £500  for winter use of pavilions, could make this unaffordable for members, some of whom have been attending for up to 40 years.

Chairman Chris Barnes said: “It’s just not on, we’ll have to close for the winter and these people will be sat at home on their own. It’s a social thing, some are widowers and they’d have nowhere to go.

“I think they’re wanting us to just go down to the graveyard. They’re just pushing us out.”

The charges have been proposed for all borough pavilions in order to cut £67,000 from running costs.

This comes as part of a total of £23.5m in savings the council is hoping to make.

But club members have warned the impact of losing such a vital outlet could be devastating.

They also point out they have helped to meet many of the costs themselves, while leaving the premises would be a waste of a valuable space.

One of the club’s supporters is Smithills councillor Roger Hayes, who leads the borough’s Liberal Democrat group.

He said: “People forget what a big social benefit it has been. During the pandemic we heard a lot of talk about the importance of mental health and I think people forget it’s still important, its not gone away.

“I have some sympathy with the council’s problems but this is one of the things we’ve got to keep.”

But officials at Bolton Council says that this is the only way to secure the wider future of the borough’s bowling greens.

A council spokesman said: “Due to budget restrictions, the council was forced to make some difficult decisions on the charges for the use of bowling greens and the associated pavilions.

“These charges were brought in following a public consultation and their introduction means we were able to avoid the alternative, of closing any of the borough’s bowling greens.

“We recognise the value of these facilities to our local communities, but we are not in a position to subsidise their use over the winter months.”