A WIN for flat green bowling club members looked to be in the offing this week after angry bowlers hit out at Dudley Council saying their bid to save the authority maintenance money had been snubbed.

Clubs worried they will face hardship from 2017, if a proposed large fees hike of up to 1,000 per cent comes into play, offered to take over the running of the bowling green at Stevens Park, Wollescote, to help save the cash-strapped council funds and preserve the sports facility for future generations.

But bowls club members told the News their repeated offers to council officials had fallen on deaf ears.

Geoff Downing, of Black Country Bowls Club, said there had been "no official acceptance or refusal from the council" after members suggested the bowling green could be loaned to them on a 10-year tenure and peppercorn reservation fee - making them responsible for repairs and maintenance of the green.

He said the offer would save the council "a vast amount of money in these times of cutbacks" but members had been repeatedly fobbed off with excuses about the matter being in the hands of the council's legal department and the Mary Stevens Trust - as the green was gifted to the authority under a deed of gift by late benefactor Ernest Stevens.

Club secretary Brian Simmonds added: "I think we should be able to maintain it but only if I'm in a position to get financial support like grants and sponsorship. A 10-year lease would not be unreasonable."

The ground at Wollescote park is the only flat green bowling green in the borough and bowling enthusiasts fear with council cutbacks it could fall into disrepair if their offer of taking it over is not accepted.

However - as the News went to press Dudley Council issued a statement from Councillor Hilary Bills, cabinet member for environmental services, saying "alternative options for the management and maintenance of bowling greens across the borough" were being considered - given the pressures and funding cuts faced by the council.

She added: "We are currently working closely with local bowling clubs to determine whether they could take over the leases of individual greens and therefore the maintenance of them.

"This would be our preferred option as alternatively we would have to look at reluctantly introducing higher fees to use the greens.

"If we had to go down this route, the increase - which has not yet been determined - would be introduced in the next financial year.

"We are talking to the Ernest Stevens Trust for their support in leasing the Wollescote Park bowling green to the clubs.

"Following this we will be consulting with local people on these proposals in the near future.”