Police called as Sunderland bowling club is evicted over lease wrangle
A long-standing Sunderland bowling club has found itself homeless following a legal wrangle over a lease.
Members of Grindon Mill Bowling Club are now facing a race against time to find a place to call their own before the start of the new season.
The group, founded in 1932, says it has been left with no option but to leave its home after a legal wrangle over the lease with the land owner.
At the weekend, members cleared their belongings from the building, but with nowhere to go they fear for the future of the club.
Land owner Khayam Iftikhar says he has spent thousands over the years to improve the clubhouse, but claims the group breached its tenancy agreement and left him with no choice but to take action.
The club denies breaching the agreement.
Police were called to the club on Sunday after dialogue became heated between the two parties. The issue is now in the hands of solicitors.
Meanwhile, club members have been left to look for a new place in which to play once the season re-starts.
Chairman Alan Patterson, 58, said: “We have a 25-year lease and we’ve still got at least 22 years left on it.
“Notices were put up on the door to tell us we had to get out and the locks had been changed.
“We have been here since 1932, but have young lads playing who would otherwise be hanging around the streets.
“We have 24 members ranging from about 16 to 70 years old. We have been told this is a civil matter. We asked if we could keep everything in a container on the site until Monday or Tuesday, but we got told no.
“The whole thing is just silly, the way it has gone on. They could have at least given us a day to sort things out.
Mr Iftikhar said: “I purchased the land about six or seven years ago, with sitting tenants. Over the years, I have painted the building, given them a new boiler, new windows, a projector and security cameras.
“This is a civil matter. They have breached their tenancy agreement which means they have forfeited their tenancy.
“However, they are allowed to take any recourse they wish. That is up to them. The solicitors will address the situation accordingly.
“The bailiffs came in on September 22 to put up the notice. It was a peaceful entry, so they have had notice to vacate the premises.”
A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “Officers attended but no arrests were made.”