Jags legend John Harvey (86) of Bearsden: ‘We can’t afford to lose indoor bowls hall’

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Partick Thistle legend John Harvey has joined the growing protests against plans by East Dunbartonshire Council to scrap an indoor bowls hall 
at Bearsden.

Almost 2,000 people have signed an online petition objecting to the threat to the hall used by Allander Indoor Bowling Club at the local leisure centre.

The club, which has more than 300 members, have been told by representatives of the council it will not be included in the plans for the new £33m replacement leisure centre.

Bearsden resident Mr Harvey (86), who made 400 appearances for Jags in the 1950s and 1960s, and was a goal scorer for Thistle in a vital European contest in the early 60s, told the Herald: “We can’t afford to lose this facility.”

He accused the council of going back on their word to provide “like for like” activities at the new centre and putting the health and welfare of elderly people at risk.

He said: “As a now elderly man of 86, I rely on the indoor bowling at the Allander to provide me with social as well as physical respite. Due to my physical condition I am unable to participate in more strenuous pastimes but bowling gives me that gentle exercise suited to me.

“I have been a member for 40 years enjoying the friendship of hundreds who also have been part of this wonderful facility. The club has bowlers of international standard, offering them the competitive nature of the sport, plus the social and gentle exercise so many need for physical and mental wellbeing.

“Alarm bells have been ringing with suggestions the council is to take the facility away from the planned new development, even after previous councils had assured the members otherwise.

“The statement ‘like for like’ was the expression used.

“We need a council who is supportive and can see the potential and importance of having facilities for the elderly. Better that than needing carers, or a care home. Hundreds of new homes are being built in the area meaning thousands more residents but the council propose to reduce the amenities on offer.

“There are no other indoor bowling facilities in the area, so bowlers have no alternative for the long winter months. It is imperative the council 
ensures a leisure centre that provides for all.

“I am an ex-professional footballer, an ex-tennis 
player, an ex-golfer. Am I soon to be an ex-bowler? I pray not.”

Sandy Torrie, an office bearer with the club, told the Herald a further meeting had been held with the council on Thursday, August 29.

He said: “Council boss Thomas Glen indicated from the outset he will not be recommending a bowls hall be included in the new Allander Leisure Centre. He was asked how much a bowls hall would cost – he did not know!”

Yesterday, (Wednesday) Thomas Glen, Depute Chief Executive - Place, Neighbourhood & Corporate Assets, said: “Following lengthy discussions with various interested parties, a report into the specification of the Allander Leisure Centre will come before council on 26 September.

“We have received the petition and it will be referenced in the report that comes before Councillors.”

In a previous Herald article, joint council leaders Vaughan Moody and Andrew Polson said work had been brought forward by 18 months for the centre and it would be “much improved”, adding council and leisure trust officers had advised the bowling club the facility would not be recommended for inclusion because of cost.

They said: “Officers have committed to working with the club to look at alternative provision if their recommendation is followed at the council meeting.”

Cllr Moody added this week: “We will hear further details about this exciting new development next week at the Council meeting and there will be an opportunity at that point for us to discuss what happens next.”

Cllr Polson said this week: “There have been a great deal of meetings and conversations about the new Allander Leisure Centre and I look forward to the report next week and considering its recommendations for the future.”