Iconic Gladstone club 'on the brink of closure'

SECURING THE GREEN: Committee member Dave Olsen and chairman Peter pershouse at the Gladstone Bowls Club.
SECURING THE GREEN: Committee member Dave Olsen and chairman Peter pershouse at the Gladstone Bowls Club. Paul Braven

GLADSTONE RSL and Bowls Club has hit rock bottom and for the first time in its more than 75-year history is on the "brink of closure".

Like many venues in town the once well patronised club has struggled to keep its head above water in the aftermath of the boom.

The club's chairman Peter Pershouse said the club lost half of its members during the boom as "they sold up and left town".

At its peak the club had about 200 members but that number is now sitting at about 80.

In a letter to the council, the club said its biggest problem was having to pay more than $29,000 in rates this year.

"It's coming up to our busy time of the year which might mean we'll make enough to cover some of the rates but not the ongoing costs," Mr Pershouse said.

"I don't know what we'll do but it will be a struggle to stay open," he said.

SECURING THE GREEN: Committee member Dave Olsen and chairman Peter pershouse at the Gladstone Bowls Club.
SECURING THE GREEN: Committee member Dave Olsen and chairman Peter pershouse at the Gladstone Bowls Club. Paul Braven

To cut costs, the club recently laid off its manager, reduced the number of casual staff and the hours they work and scaled back "the greenkeeper's contract by roughly 30%".

But to keep the doors open "during quieter times" loyal club members have had to volunteer their time to work behind the bar.

The club's treasurer Tony Wyper said it was in a "dire battle" to pay its rates but would meet with the council to try and find a solution to the club's financial predicament.

"We're battling week to week like everyone in Gladstone," My Wyper said.

"It's very scary because we could close if things don't turn around in 12 months."

Part of the problem for the club is that it has six poker machines and despite earning the club about $30,000 a year, it means the club gets bumped up into a more expensive rate category.

SECURING THE GREEN: Committee member Dave Olsen and chairman Peter pershouse at the Gladstone Bowls Club.
SECURING THE GREEN: Committee member Dave Olsen and chairman Peter pershouse at the Gladstone Bowls Club. Paul Braven

Mayor Matt Burnett said if the club got rid of its poker machines it would pay less rates but he didn't want to see the club lose its pokies.

"From our point of view Gladstone RSL and Bowls are very important to the Gladstone community," Cr Burnett said.

"There wouldn't be one councillor who would like to see the club close.

"We're happy to sit down with them and see where they can save money... if there's a way to reduce their rates we will do it," he said.

Mr Pershouse said the clubs pokies didn't make enough money to cover wages for staff and although the machines only "make a small amount... they're there to get people through the door".

"I'm working 20 to 30 hours a week to keep it going because it's very important to me... there's a lot of history in the place," he said.

"We need help and it's as simple as that."



Topics:  bowls club closing gladstone gladstone region

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