A November 22 vote over the possible merger of the Laird Park and Wanganui East bowling clubs could meet with a strong 'nay' vote from within the Wanganui East group, says club life member Barry Stevens.

The respective presidents Kerry Ridgway and Judy Titter said in late October that the meetings will call for a vote by members regarding the move, which would see the Wanganui East property on Helmore St sold for real estate and the 130-odd members relocating across the river to the larger Laird Park complex, where there are just over 40 members.

Ridgway said the prior meeting with 80 Wanganui East members, there was strong support for the merger.

However, Stevens, a member for 40 years, said he had to put "the other side of the argument across," where many in the club are happy to stay where they are.


"It was stated that the merger... ..was sparked by a lack of expansion of room at Wanganui East.

"The question is, why should the club want to expand with bowling numbers decreasing?"
Stevens said the support at the initial meeting was giving permission for an investigation to be undertaken, but not for the merger itself.

"There is strong support in the Wanganui East Bowling Club to stay put."

Stevens felt the money which could be made for selling the 5000 square metre land at Wanganui East would not be sufficient to cover enough of the costs to meet the proposal to expand Laird Park with an indoor bowls complex for all-weather games on artificial greens.

"If, after moving to Laird Park BC, the indoor complex was found to be uneconomical, the Wanganui East BC would have moved from a two green club to another two green club, and moved to a council owned property from a property completely owned by the Wanganui East BC

"Why should the Wanganui East BC move and risk everything by investing heavily in another bowling club with the present situation of membership declining significantly throughout New Zealand?"

Whanganui District Council leases the land to Laird Park BC.

Stevens said of the six bowling clubs which have closed in Wellington in the past five years, three of them were on land leased by the city council and one was on partially-owned council land.

"The council did not renew leases for two of the clubs and the other four closed because of lack of membership and financial reasons."

With their centennial coming in 2022, Stevens said Wanganui East is the biggest club in town and they have their own culture with evenings for cards, table tennis, mahjong games, as well as a greyhound syndicate with five dogs.

Ridgway previously said the amalgamation would be "right down the middle" and the clubs had to be satisfied they would not be "kicked out" of Laird Park after making the proposed move.

"[The Wanganui East property] could fit about eight houses, we are told, so it must be worth a bit of money.

"With that money and support from community grants, we are confident our plans for an indoor complex can go ahead for the benefit of the sport in Whanganui."

Titter said the Laird Park members have been 100 per cent behind the merger since Wanganui East proposed it.