Southampton bowling club members are trying to save their beloved group from the axe after the council said it will pull the plug on financial support.

Since its inception in 1959, Mayfield Park Bowling Club on Weston Lane has become like a family to its dozens of members.

But in May the happy days were over when the council announced it would end a 24-year agreement with the club that allows them to use the site for a minimal fee so it could make savings.

With the support running out in September, many of its 98 members have called for the council to reconsider.

Paul Mence, 74Paul Mence, 74 (Image: NQ, Jose Ramos)

Retired engineer Paul Mence, 74, said: “We are all of an age where there are life changes and we all support each other.

“It’s somewhere we can come and do some exercise, or have a cup of tea with the people you know. It’s community.”

In 2000, the city council entered into a lease agreement with the club which saw it pay £1 a year in rent and contribute £100 to running costs of the clubhouse and grounds.

In return, the club agreed to provide an on-site attendant to support the use of the green between opening months of May to September.

But with the council in dire need of plugging a multi-million pound deficit and needing Government backing to make cuts, this pact was picked for the chop.

Councillor Eamonn Keogh, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, said the decision was 'regrettable' but the arrangement was 'not sustainable or affordable' - and the decision could save the council up to £50,000.

He said the agreement would be honoured until September 'to allow the club time to consider alternatives' and that the council was working with the committee of the bowling club to help figure this out.

But the club’s secretary Peter Conway said there was confusion around how the council could support them going forward as they waited to hear from the local authority on possible solutions.

A price hike to the members' current £75 annual membership fee in order to cover the costs is not feasible - so the future for the club is looking bleak.

Member Miriam Mackie, 78, said: “A lot of the people have been bowling for 20 years. They have been coming for a long time. A lot of people who live in the area wouldn’t be able to travel across the city.”

Daphne Woods, 81, added: “The park we have here provides an open space. We can come walk and we can go bowling, and if some of us are not very good we get coached as well.

“If we were all to move to a different site, there wouldn’t be one place which could take us all and we wouldn’t know anyone else.”

Members of the Mayfield Park Bowling ClubMembers of the Mayfield Park Bowling Club (Image: NQ, Jose Ramos)

Cllr Keogh said it was 'necessary and appropriate that all activities are scrutinised to ensure they are fit for purpose, and they meet statutory requirements', adding: “These decisions are regrettable and are only being taken because of the failure of central Government to appropriate fund local councils such as Southampton.’