Bowls boost for Leamington

Women's Bowls at Victoria Park, Leamington.

Women's Bowls at Victoria Park, Leamington.

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Around £2 million is thought to have been pumped into the local economy with the staging of the Bowls England Championships - bringing around 8,000 more people to Leamington.

Shops, bars, restaurants and hotels are estimated to have benefited by between £1.3 million to £1.7 million, using “conservative calculations”, said a report this week.

But using the higher figure of total attendance, the estimated boost to the Leamington area economy is put at £2.1 million, said the report to Warwick District Council’s executive meeting on Wednesday evening.

And many visitors were pleased by the “feel and welcome” experienced in the town, aided by the flags and signs put up for the event last August.

Bowls England estimated the month-long championships attracted more than 2,000 competitors and the organisation’s spectator estimates give a figure of 6,000.

The report said BID Leamington noted “good feedback” from a number of businesses it consulted on the economic impact of the event. It said: “Feedback from BID Leamington and local businesses is clear, that they value the impact of the extended championships, particularly at a quieter time of the year - during school holidays.”

A BID Leamington spokeswoman added: “The overwhelming message is that they value the impact of the extended championships.

“It’s great for the town and the local economy and a wonderful opportunity to showcase the town to a wider audience”

Warwick District Council also had a lot of comment from players and spectators regarding Leamington and the surrounding area.

And the report said: “With the vast majority positive with regard to the wide range of places to eat and accommodation.

“The Bowls Advisor document produced by Bowls England has assisted many ‘first-timers’ to find out more about the area.”

For nearly 40 years Leamington played host to the Women’s National Bowls Championships in Victoria Park, which was opened in 1899 to mark Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

But in 2013 Warwick District Council and Bowls England signed a contract to extend the event to include the Men’s National Championships from 2014 for 10 years, tempting it away from Worthing.

PARKING

The report to the executive has highlighted concerns raised by the Friends of Victoria Park group and local visitors about the park being used for parking by those at the championships.

In light of those, it said caravans would not be allowed in the park, the parking area reduced and parking would be controlled by a specialist event company.

More than 6050 cars parked in the park during the championships, generating more than £20,000 income.

The council sent a survey to 642 households living near the park and along with consultations with park users, it revealed that 74 per cent of users felt that the championships had “little or no impact” on their park usage.

Suggestions for parking including using Warwickshire College and allocating St Peter’s car park for championship use.

And the report raised the possibility of converting the old tennis courts into a 37-space car park at the cost of £45,000 to include pay-and-display machines and lighting.