LONG-TIME members of the Melville and Mt Pleasant bowling clubs have banded together to condemn what they call a “vocal minority” that remains steadfastly opposed to an amalgamation and move to Tompkins Park.
Both Melville and Mt Pleasant bowling club executives, which are elected by pennant members, have repeatedly stated their support for an amalgamation and the new facilities on offer.
Long-term members like Melville Bowling Club’s Tony Omeehan and Gary McCormack have become increasingly frustrated by what they termed “Johnny-come-latelys”, who have driven opposition to the merger.
The pair, along with Mt Pleasant Bowling Club’s Jim Stewart, approached the Melville Times to emphasise that the majority of pennant bowlers believed moving to the new Tompkins Park facility, which includes four synthetic greens, is the best way to secure the long-term future of the sport.
A past president of Melville Bowling Club, Mr McCormack said a number of non-bowlers primarily concerned with stopping the wave park proposed for the current Melville Bowling Club site were driving objections to the move.
“What was once a great, strong club is now divided and to me it is very disappointing and hurtful that we have people pulling in two different directions,” he said.
Former mayor of East Fremantle, Tim Smith, and one-time Federal member for Tangney and Canning, George Gear, were singled out for leading resistance to the amalgamation.
Mr Smith said he had been a social member at Melville Bowling Club for five years and it was unfair that only pennant bowlers had been considered in the City’s lawn bowls strategy that identified the need for the clubs to relocate.
“The City’s bowls strategy only represents 22 per cent of bowlers and the Melville Bowling Club has cynically chosen to use the club’s constitution to prevent social members from having their say on the relocation,” he said.
“More than 12,000 people used the bowling club last year for functions like wedding receptions and 21st birthdays but none of that was even considered.
“This is nothing more than a land grab for the wave park.”
Mr Gear, a social member for close to two years, said there was no reason for a self-sufficient club with more than $200,000 in the bank to be forced to move and amalgamate.
“Far from the declining, non-sustainable, heavily subsidised club that the executive of council would have you believe, it is instead a vibrant, self sustaining well-run club with increasing membership and bowls activity,” he said. “It is also a vital hub for many local groups that use it for functions.”
Mr Stewart, who represented Mt Pleasant Bowling Club on the Tompkins Park Relocation Group, said the Alfred Cove Action Group (ACAG) had also hijacked the amalgamation as part of its anti-wave park agenda.
“The new entity at Tompkins Park will have a bowling club that will be the envy of all bowlers in WA and bowlers from both clubs need to embrace this facility with open arms,” he said.
“ACAG should let the bowlers get on with running their own bowling clubs.”