ANGRY Denton Park Social Bowling Club members have said “enough is enough” after their home in Victoria Park has suffered a fourth arson attack in as many years.
The club has launched a £10,000 fundraising appeal to erect a perimeter fence and prevent further incidents.
Though the bowling club leases its premises from Tameside Council, the local authority has told members they do not have the cash to fence the green.
Bowling club secretary Tony Moran explained the bowling had met local councillors to discuss fencing the green before the latest attack as chairman John Pyne had been mindful of the ongoing issues.
He said: “We met with councillors over a three-month period but were told they don’t have the money.
“I have had our members texting me to say we should not have to pay for a fence as it is a public park.
“I have a different view and told the councillors ‘Fine, we’ll raise the money’.”
Tony admitted it will be a massive challenge to finance the perimeter fence.
He explained: “Realistically if we are to self-finance the perimeter fence we have to work in partnership with local businesses, donation from retailers and generosity from the public while applying to funding agencies.
“This project will be a big ask for the club to raise £10,000 to fund the installation of a fence by March, the consequences of not having a fence are frightening and will most definitely leave us open to further acts of anti-social behaviour, arson attacks and intimidation for our members/ guests and visiting support groups.”
Tony, who pointed out there is a problem with anti-social behaviour throughout Denton, added Tameside Council’s arguments about austerity cuts little ice with him and the bowling club members.
“We fully understand the pressures and constraints in these times of austerity which also applies to our members, especially our WASPI ones,” he said.
Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) is a voluntary organisation founded in 2015 that campaigns against the way in which the state pension age for men and women was equalised.
They call for the millions of women affected by the change to receive compensation
In the latest attack a fire was started on the bowling green, probably with wooden pallets, which damaged a three-square metre section of the surface.
“The reaction from our members has been one of shock and it has affected one or two badly,” said Tony.
“Anti-social behaviour is a growing problem. We had a spate of issues in the summer and thought it would go away.
“It has gone worse, not better and there seems an epidemic in the borough.
“Some of our pensioners – our oldest member is aged 92 – have felt intimidated and are very upset about what has happened.”
Tony praised Tameside Council’s Greenspace team.
“They have been very helpful and understanding and have assured us the green will be repaired before the start of the season,” he said.
Immediately after the incident, Tony reported: “After the sterling efforts by club members and local community groups it saddens me to say yet again we have been the victim of another act of anti-social behaviour and the club’s four arson attack in as many years.
“The call for perimeter fencing has never been stronger as we battle to provide a space in Victoria Park to benefit not only club members but the whole community to share and engage in our social events and charity fundraising days.
“Having recently been in discussion with Tameside Council’s Greenspace regarding to installation and design of security perimeter fencing, action must be taken and hopefully we can accelerate the installation of the approved design of perimeter fencing for the agreed area.
“It’s fair to say enough is enough.”
Other bowling clubs have nicknamed Denton Park ‘The Phoenix’ for the way in which it rose from the ashes after an arson attack destroyed its clubhouse in 2016 leaving it homeless.
Immediately following the arson attack, the five bowling teams temporarily played on greens in Hyde and Ashton.
Two of the five teams returned to Victoria Park for the 2018 season but there was no plumbing in the new clubhouse which was an inconvenience. The three other teams remained in Hyde and Ashton.
This season all five teams returned to Denton for their campaigns in various Tameside and Longdendale leagues
The new £50,000 clubhouse was officially opened by then Tameside Civic Mayor Cllr Denise Ward.
Tameside Council provided the replacement clubhouse which is leased to the bowling club which has 75 members aged between 22 and 91 years and is run entirely by volunteers.
It was the dawn of a new era as there was a change of name from Denton Bowling Club as it was looking to be more inclusive.
Tony said: “Newly formed Denton Park Social Bowling Club pledges to reach out to all the community in a time when loneliness at home and mental health are a major issue to senior citizens who we encourage to join us our in social activity and made to feel part our community and not left feeling isolated at home.
“We are currently speaking with Tameside Council’s neighbourhood south project officer to use the clubhouse as part of the litter hub initiative and look to facilitate other community projects.”