Almost 400 people have signed a petition to save a bowls club that has been open for nearly 30 years.

The Watford Conservative Association started the petition asking Mayor, Peter Taylor, to step in and protect the Watford Indoor Bowls Club on Horseshoe Lane after the council refused to grant them a new lease. 

The club said it has paid over £1 million in rent since it opened in 1991, adding, this falls short of the amount demanded by the council which it claims the council is using to “evict the club” to use the building for alternate purposes.

The bowls club has taken legal action for a lease with “affordable rent” which it says has been reviewed and suggested by an independent “expert witness”. 

The “recommended” amount is lower than the £55,000 payable to the council under the lease that ended in September 2016.

The council claims the club has nearly £300,000 in unpaid rent arrears, which they dispute. 

Watford Indoor Bowls chairman, John Bates, said: “This club has been serving the community for over 27 years, but more importantly, it is a place where people can come together, meet and keep active”. 

“The council wants to expand the current facilities run by Everyone Active, but they are not taking into consideration that some of the older generation do not want to use a gym. We want to keep active in different ways, like playing bowls. 

“It is a hobby that we really enjoy - we can meet our friends too. We pay all our bills and maintain the building at no cost to the council, but they do not want it to remain a bowls club.”

During the May elections this year, mayoral candidate, George Jabbour, pledged to save the bowls club in the Conservative manifesto, if elected. 

Conservative activist, Sarah Hayes, is trying to stop the council from going ahead with the redevelopment.

The petition has 196 comments from people supporting the club.

Mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor said:  “We are aware of the online petition. However, what is more important is the engagement we will be doing in the autumn on our exciting plans for Woodside. 

"Our ambition is to deliver outstanding new facilities and activities for families and residents of all ages, including a café, more modern sports facilities and possibly adventure golf, high ropes and an outdoor activity centre.  

"Such a facility would serve all of Watford’s residents and there is an excellent alternative indoor bowls club in the town that would welcome new members.  

"I am keen to work with the local community, and current users, to shape the proposals and would encourage people to get involved over the next few months.  We will not comment on the financial position as this is now being pursued through a legal process."

The petition can be found at