Bowls England could move National Championships away from Leamington if parking restrictions are put in place

First day of the Bowls England Women's National Championships.'MHLC-02-08-14 Bowls Nationals NNL-140408-094029009
First day of the Bowls England Women's National Championships.'MHLC-02-08-14 Bowls Nationals NNL-140408-094029009

Bowls England based in Leamington has said that proposals to reduce free 
car parking times near the town’s main bowling greens in Victoria Park could lead to it “reviewing future plans” to host its annual National Championships.

Warwickshire County Council has proposed changes to the parking regulations that apply to Archery Road, which would lead to the current four hour maximum stay being reduced to two hours with no return within four hours and the regulations applying from 8am to 10pm.

The road is the only one in the town with the four-hour limit which was put in place in 1997 at the time of the World Bowls Championships being hosted at the park.

In a letter to the county council, Bowls England’s chief executive Tony Allcock MBE has said: “Should we be unable to source adequate parking for those attending events outside the National Championships, which the proposed change will certainly influence, this will be a great concern to Bowls England and force us to review our future plans when considering host venues.

“Any such decision would clearly be contrary to your authority’s vision to seek opportunities for economic growth.”

The changes would not affect the National Championships in August as Archery Road is closed for four weeks to all but residents and officials working at the event.

But there would be an impact on regular bowls activities at the park, with most matches taking about three hours.

The greens are the home venue for Royal Leamington Spa Bowling Club (RLSBC), Potterton’s Bowling Club, Home Guard Bowling Club, Warwickshire Women’s Bowls Association and Bowls England.

Matches are played throughout the season from April to September, with RLSBC using their club house on the site for social activities throughout the year.

In his letter, Mr Allcock has said: “Many members are in the older age bracket, may endure difficulty in walking and/or have a number of other disabilities.

“The proposal, if supported, would impact on their ability to participate in the sport and would certainly be in contravention of your stated aim to ‘look after vulnerable members of society.”

There would also be some impact on Victoria Park Community Tennis Club and other users of the park as well as on one-off events that take place in the park.

Visitors would have to find alternative parking if they intended to be in the park for more than two hours.

Overflow parking is available in the area at the far end of Archery Road, known as the ‘Old Tennis Courts’, but Warwick District Council officers have already deemed this unsuitable to be used as a formal car park due to a lack of lighting and insufficient capacity for those wanting to park for longer than two hours and also that the expected income from running the area as a car park would be insufficient to cover its operating costs.

Pending a meeting of the district council’s executive on Wednesday, the authority is expected to join Bowls England and RLSBC in objecting to the county council proposal, with the other clubs based in Victoria Park expected to follow suit.

Bowls England moved its operations to Leamington in 2014.