AN INDOOR bowling centre in a Tameside village, described as a vital service for older people in particular, has been given a reprieve after it was due to close.
The Etherow Centre in Broadbottom was set to permanently shut on Friday, September 1, after Active Tameside, which runs the service, announced it would be one of three of its fitness facilities to close.
Costs rising to more than £2 million a year had forced the trust’s hand after Tameside Council, which has its own financial issues, was unable to help. Active Tameside also said the site was earmarked for closure based on current levels of subsidy and the physical fabric of the building was also considered.
Since the news was made public in early July, local politicians, facility users and members of the community have been fighting to save the dedicated indoor bowling centre on Mottram Road.
Councillor Jacqueline Owen, who represents the Longdendale ward which includes Broadbottom, has now confirmed that the centre will stay open for the next six months, which gives the Etherow Trust, bowlers and interested parties the opportunity to set up an alternative management structure.
Cllr Owen said: “The Etherow Centre Charitable Trust and bowlers are working with the support of Longdendale councillors and officers to secure the long-term future of this well-used and valued facility. Watch this space for updates.
“The new venture of short mat bowls and the commitments of other boroughs to host their competition matches at Etherow, going forward, will be pivotal in securing the financial future.
“An interim agreement has been reached with the Etherow Trust, users of the centre and Tameside Council to keep the facility open until March 31, 2024.
“During this time, a committee, already formed, will investigate becoming a Community Interest Company, a charity or something similar. We, as your local councillors, will do whatever we can to support this much-loved and well-used facility.
“There’s lots of potential and we’re hopeful of a positive long-term outcome.”
A Correspondent reader, D Buckley, feels the permanent closure of The Etherow Centre would have a huge impact on older people.
They commented: “Closing Etherow will affect many older people in the community as it is the only indoor bowling in the area. This is a vital service for the physical and mental health of the older generation and no alternative is on offer.
“It is an absolute disgrace and Tameside Council should step in and save this faculty instead of spending millions on the centre of Ashton.”
MP Jonathan Reynolds, whose constituency covers Broadbottom, welcomed the update and hopes a long-term solution can be found to keep the facility.
“Really pleased that the Etherow Bowling Centre will remain open for another six months whilst options for a community-led model are explored,” the Labour MP said.
“Huge thanks to the Longdendale councillors for leading on this. Where valuable local assets are able to be run by those who care about them the most, this is a welcome option to explore.”