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Norwich club faces extinction

PUBLISHED: 12:00 16 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:46 02 July 2010

Members of Norwich Croquet Club, which is looking for a new home. Photo: Adrian Judd.

Members of Norwich Croquet Club, which is looking for a new home. Photo: Adrian Judd.

A popular sports club in Norwich has issued an urgent appeal for help after warning it faces extinction unless it finds a more affordable place to play.

A popular sports club in Norwich has issued an urgent appeal for help after warning it faces extinction unless it finds a more affordable place to play.

Norwich Crocquet Club has played at Eaton Park for about 30 years but it claims it has been hit with a huge increase in lawn rental. The club's chairman Neil Chalmers said the lawn rental had been tripled to £3,900 for this year and next, and was then at least doubling again to £8,000, from 2012.

The rental is paid to Norwich City Council, whose spokeswoman said today it had made a number of efficiency savings because of the global recession.

The council said it was forced to review, in consultation with the public, some of the discretionary services it offered, and that some of the services that were underused or unsustainable had been stopped.

Mr Chalmers said: “These rents are not only unrealistic but unsustainable. Our membership is currently 40 to 45 and is comprised largely of retired people.

“At a time when every effort is being made to encourage pensioners to remain active these heavy charges will have the directly opposite effect.

“We must either find an affordable place to play during the next two years or hang up our mallets. I believe there are several bowling clubs in the Norwich area in similar straits which might be looking for partners.

“Bowls and croquet can co-exist perfectly satisfactorily on the same greens/ courts provided there is a willingness to make it work. “Therefore we would like to hear from any bowls clubs, preferably within the city or immediate environs and, ideally, with two greens which might be interested in working with us.”

A Norwich City Council spokeswoman said: “Our open spaces and sports development team have been working very closely with the croquet club to find a way they can continue to use the facilities. We hope the support we are providing will help the club to strengthen and develop their membership so croquet can continue on Eaton Park.”

If you can help Mr Chalmers, contact him through norwichcroquetclub@talktalk.net or by post at Neil Chalmers, Chairman, Norwich Croquet Club, 80 Norwich Road, Salhouse Norwich NR13 6PB.

Is your club struggling to survive in the recession? Ring reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk.

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