How does Leeds compare with other local authorities?
The following table compares the number of outdoor bowling greens in Leeds with major UK cities:
These other cities on average have 20 greens which means in comparison that there are around 3 times as many greens in Leeds.
Income and Membership Profile
In 2013 a report to the Council’s Executive Board supported a review of the provision of crown green bowling in the city and agreed to the introduction of a season ticket fee commencing at £25 in 2014/15 rising to £31.50 in 2017/18. It was anticipated that this would lead to an income recovery of £62k in 2014/15 rising to £78k in 2017/18.
Following detailed consultation with the bowling association, the annual usage charge was based on what was considered and agreed by them to be a conservative number of bowlers in the city of 2,500. Following the introduction of these arrangements, the number of members that paid the season ticket was less than anticipated and has continued to decline since as shown in the following table:
This demonstrates a steady decline in membership with a 24% reduction when comparing 2014 to 2019. The season ticket price increase was implemented, which accounts for why income has been sustained throughout this period, although the season ticket charge has remained static at £31 since 2017/18.
In 2019 there were 49 bowling clubs on the 48 sites identified. The following table indicates the range of paying ‘summer’ adult members at each of these sites:
Cost and Level of Subsidy
There is an overall cost of around £4k per green largely made up of labour costs representing a total cost of £248k for all 62 greens. As indicated, the level of income in 2019/20 was £43k and therefore the net level of subsidy is around £205k which is the equivalent of £148 per bowler.
The net saving would be £83k each year which takes account of an assumed income reduction if 31 greens were closed along with making due allowance for the capital cost of re-landscaping any greens removed. It would also enable a reduction of 4.5 full time equivalent gardeners.
ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES TO MEETING THE SAVING OBJECTIVE
The stated aim is to reduce the number of bowling greens managed and maintained by the Council from 62 to 31. This could be achieved in a number of different ways or by combining different approaches. The following table outlines potential alternative approaches along with the maximum number of bowling greens that could be reduced if this approach was adopted.