Sprowston bowls club tips are not a ‘bribe’

PUBLISHED: 12:26 23 February 2011 | UPDATED: 12:26 23 February 2011

Bowls players

Bowls players

Archant © 2010

Members of a bowls club near Norwich have been cleared of any wrongdoing after being warned that tipping grounds staff to reward their hard work might be classed as bribery.

Sprowston Recreation Ground Bowls Club has for years given staff at the Recreation Ground Road-based green in Sprowston £20 at the end of the year in recognition of the work they do to keep the surface immaculate.

But the club received a letter from Sprowston Parish Council warning it should consider stopping the practice because of fears it might be prohibited by a new act of parliament - the Bribery Act 2010.

However those fears have now been allayed by a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice who said: “A Christmas tip for grounds staff would not constitute a bribe.”

The new laws, which were passed by parliament last year but have not yet come into force, are intended to prevent corruption in foreign business deals involving UK firms.

Phyllis Turner, chairman of the club, said they were pleased to have been “proven to be right that it’s not a bribe” but had yet to decide whether or not they would continue the practice.

She said: “We shall have to have a committee meeting and decide that. We give the tip at the end of the year after the bowls season - it’s a gratuity not a bribe. But we shall have to decide (what to do) at the committee meeting.”

As previously reported members of the club, which had given supermarket vouchers to the value of £20 instead of cash to staff in recent years, were shocked to receive the warning.

Derek Walker, who has been a member of the bowls club for the past five years, said: “I just can’t believe it, it’s a nonsense. It’s so ridiculous its beyond belief.

The 76-year-old from Sprowston has since written to the Ministry of Justice to get a letter confirming in writing that what they were doing did not constitute a bribe.

June Hunt, clerk of Sprowston Parish Council, said they had not asked the bowls club to stop tipping staff, but wanted to make them aware of the difficult position it put council staff in.

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