Vote to make ends meet: board puts historic Orange bowling club up for sale

FOR SALE: Newstead Bowling Club is for sale and the club’s members will decide its future at a meeting next week. Photo: JUDE KEOGH
FOR SALE: Newstead Bowling Club is for sale and the club’s members will decide its future at a meeting next week. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

“THE future of the club is completely in the members’ hands.”

Newstead Bowling Club chairman Gary Norton confirmed yesterday the club’s Hill Street premises is for sale, and the decision will be put to a members’ vote at a special general meeting next Wednesday night.

Mr Norton said Newstead’s board had debated the club’s future for years and now, due to continued low patronage, had just two long-term options in front of it.

“We can sell, which would allow Newstead to make the changes and employ the strategies we have discussed to ensure the club enjoys a long life,” Mr Norton explained.

“Or, we cannot sell, and risk the longevity of the club. We have options in front of us that will keep us alive for five years, but that’s not what we want. We want a long-term option.”

Newstead recently engaged a real estate agency to put the club up for public tender, as per the NSW Registered Clubs Act 1976, and has received two offers since.

“Huge amounts of money are being put into clubs around the country,” Mr Norton explained.

“The changes Newstead requires to increase our already low patronage are huge, and we cannot make a lot of those renovations due to the premises’ heritage listing. We have received two offers since, however one was withdrawn immediately due to the club’s heritage listing.”

The second offer, which Mr Norton describes as “substantial, but fair”, will be discussed and decided upon at next week’s meeting.

“This has been anguishing stuff for us, and our members,” he said.

“It isn’t a new topic, there has been discussion surrounding this for around 18 months. The meeting is to ensure all the members understand the pros and cons of selling, and a decision is made regarding the sale.

“There will be discussion about our absolute future and, ideally, we would like to secure a premises at a new greenfield site, like the [Orange City] council’s proposed rectangular sporting precinct. Short-term, we have had preliminary discussions with other clubs to be able to use their premises, and become an affiliated club, with the potential for that to become a long-term consideration.

“All options need to be investigated to ensure the longevity of Newstead.”

Newstead Bowling Club’s special general meeting is scheduled for next Wednesday, May 28, at 7pm - the same night as the first State of Origin game.

Mr Norton dismissed speculation the timing was pre-organised, perhaps to ensure lower attendance and, as such, lower votes.

“No, that had nothing to do with it,” he said.

“The offer stands until the end of May and after giving our members the required 21 days notice, the 28th is the date we had to do it.”