A long-established Bowls Club in Thetford is seeking support from the public in its campaign to remain open after its landlord increased its rent by 1,500%.
The G.W. Staniforth Bowls Club has now launched a petition in an attempt to make their landlord think again. The need arose after the G.W Staniforth Trust, who own the land and buildings the club utilise hiked their rent demand from £300 a year to an incredible £3,950. All this despite club members attending to and paying for all maintenance of the building and rinks themselves.
Almost 400 people have signed a petition to save the Bowls Club with hundreds more filling in hard copy signatures displayed around town and circulated among other Bowls clubs.
Bowls Club Secretary John Wright said: “Firstly, I want to thank every single person who has taken the trouble to sign so far. We are co-ordinating this petition which will be presented to Trustees of the GW Staniforth Trust and ask that they reconsider their decision to increase the rent and instead work with, and support, the Bowls Club so that it can remain operating”.
The G.W Staniforth Bowls Club has existed since 1951 but is at risk of closure as the club cannot afford the new rent determined by the Staniforth Trust.
Local Councillor Stuart Terry (Labour) who is supporting the Bowls Club said; “We know that George Staniforth, who gave the land and buildings to the Trust, was a keen bowls player himself. I am sure that he would be disappointed to see the end of this club after more than 71 years and I hope that the Trustees review their decision”.
John Wright added: “The financial reality is subs would need to rise from the current £50 a year to £150. With a cost-of-living crisis in full swing, this is completely unfeasible. We expected a rise – but this seems punitive. If the club does fold Thetford would be the biggest town in England without a green. After 71 years it would be such a loss”.
You can sign the petition by visiting the link https://chng.it/VwKnTPHmfd
Hard copy versions of the petition are located at Bowls Club, Leaping Hare, and Charles Burrell Centre in Thetford.
Picture attached: George Wild Staniforth, pictured third from left on the bottom row, was a keen bowls player. Picture copyright David Osborne, ‘Thetford – A Century Remembered’