Shetland Recreational Trust boss James Johnston has sought to reassure bowlers that no decisions have yet been taken regarding restructuring works within Clickimin.
His comments come after alarm was raised within the bowling community over fears that two of the four bowling rinks in the bowls hall would be lost as a result of altering the premises to meet the needs of the new Anderson High School.
The bowlers feared that the £3 million earmarked for work at Clickimin would be used to build an “indoor training centre” in the bowls hall, but have now been assured that this is not the case.
According to SRT manager Mr Johnston, the figure of £3 million was for the whole of the restructuring work at Clickimin, which included nearly £2 million for a new build training centre south of the exisiting complex.
A statement from Mr Johnston read: “No decisions have been taken regarding the restructuring works within Clickimin. The SRT is currently consulting a range of stakeholders on the impact any reconfiguration of facilities would have, including users of the bowls hall.
“The results of this consultation will be fed back to trustees prior to decisions being made on the way forward.”
This statement follows confusion caused last week when SIC chief executive Mark Boden asserted that the council was planning to invest £3 million for work on an indoor training centre at the Clickimin bowls hall.
Mr Johnston further emphasised SRT’s position in a statement which read: “The £3 million is the total budget allocated to fund restructuring works within Clickimin Leisure Complex, including the expansion of our Apex gym facilities, in return for using defined areas of the building for the delivery of PE lessons.
“As part of that restructuring works a new indoor training facility is planned to be built to the south of Clickimin Leisure Complex. It will not be built within the existing bowls hall.
“The indoor training centre will be used by school pupils during term time for PE lessons and local sportsmen and sportswomen out of school hours.”
However bowlers are still unsure about what the future holds for them, and have organised an online petition to keep the bowls hall intact. According to Lerwick Outdoor Bowling Club president Tam Terris, the petition already has around 150 signatures, including some from the south of England and USA.
Over the last four months, representatives of Shetland’s five bowling clubs have met “three or four” times with Clickimin management and trustees of the SRT to stress the importance of retaining the existing number of rinks in the bowls hall. Mr Terris said they had been told that part of the bowls hall could possibly become an extended Apex fitness suite, with the existing Apex being made into a classroom or observation area.
But it has now been stressed that no decision has been taken.
Bowlers have always been unanimous in maintaining that four rinks were necessary in the bowls hall to enable competitions, such as the NatWest Island Games, to take place – and have credited the excellent facilities at Clickimin with producing teams which win tournaments on the mainland.
Take rinks away, they say, and bowling in Shetland will be decimated. Hosting competitions will be impossible, and bowlers from outwith Lerwick may not bother coming into town for fear they will not get a game in reduced playing space.
They also emphasise the health and social benefits of bowls.