NIPBA finals at Portstewart could be in jeopardy: Linton

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The president of the NIPBA says Portstewart Bowling Club members are “horrified” by shocking vandalism to the green over Christmas.

Noel Linton, who is also Honorary Secretary of the Warren-based club, says major NIPBA Championship finals this summer have been put in jeopardy because of the scale of the damage.

“The members are horrified, speechless,” Mr Linton told the Times.

“This sort of thing has never, ever happened before.

“The only time we have not been able to play on this green is when it was flooded.”

Coleraine Borough Council’s Parks staff discovered significant damage to the premier green during a outine inspection.

“As far as we can ascertain, individuals gained access to the No1 green from the football pitch side of the Warren and were playing on the sruface with football boots on.

“The damage was caused sometime over Christmas. The stud marksand pot holes have left the green unplayable.”

Mr Linton said he hoped that the hitherto pristine surface could be restored.

“As I am president this year all the big finals - the Piggott Cup, Sutherland Cup and Hyland-Donaghey Cup - are due to be played at Portstewart.

“The NIPBA Greens Committee will now look at the issue alongside Parks Manager, Paul Jess. The police are also involved.

“I’m not sure what can be done but it looks as if an entire new green is needed, the damage is that bad.”

In a statement issued by Council last week, Mr Jess Parks Manager, Paul Jess, commented:“Unfortunately due to the damage caused to the green, the surface has been rendered unplayable for bowls for the foreseeable future.

“The football pavilion’s broken down fence seems to be the entry point for those who created the damage.

“It is sad to see such vandalism at this time of the year with the approach of Easter and the start of the new bowling season.”

A statement from Cpoleraine Borough Council said: “The surface has been extensively damaged by small pot holes and torn grass, caused by the unauthorised access and mistreatment of the pristine surface.

“The local PSNI have been alerted of the damage and it is hoped to identify the cause. If anyone has any further information regarding the damage at The Warren, please contact the local PSNI office with details.”

Mr Linton confirmed that further discussions would take place when representatives from the NIPBA Greens Committee, members of Portstewart Bowling Club and Coleraine Borough Council meet later this week.

Meanwhile police want to hear from anyone who may have witnessed the damage taking place over the Christmas period. The number to ring is 101.