Council says ‘no’ to tax payer cash for Budleigh croquet club’s big birthday bash

Taxpayers’ cash will not be used to fund anniversary drinks when Budleigh Salterton Croquet Club celebrates its 150th birthday bash this summer.

The club asked the town council to contribute towards party plans and make a donation of up to £500 for drinks to be served with a slice of celebration cake.

Councillors turned down the request for help, saying the town’s taxpayers should not be expected to fund parties.

Councillor Henry Riddell said: “It’s public money and I don’t think it should be going to just a party.

“If we do that, we are setting a precedent and what happens when the football club wants to do something; the tennis club? It just goes on and on.

“I don’t think people in the town will feel happy knowing that’s what their money’s going on.”

Alison Maddaford, Budleigh Salterton Croquet Club chairman, asked for the council’s help at the last town meeting.

She said it was hoped the 150th anniversary celebrations would be held in June, where charities, local groups, organisations and representatives of the town would be invited.

The council heard how the croquet club, one of the oldest sports clubs in the country, hosts national, European and Croquet Association tournaments at the Westfield Close club.

The croquet club chairman told councillors: “This brings to the town a lot of income. They come and stay in hotels, bed and breakfast, they rent places, they then go out in the evening and enjoy themselves at the various hostelries, pubs, clubs.

“They spend a lot of money. They do spend a bit in the club as well. They are of great benefit to the club.

“We are not just asking for something from the town. The club gives back to the town a tremendous amount each year.”

In its request for financial help, the croquet club told the town council its operating deficit for 2020 was £29,000 to include a budget of £5,000 for ‘exceptional expenses’.

The club started in the 1860s with archery and tennis, adding croquet and bowls later.

The croquet club’s history states it was on the pre-Wimbledon circuit in the 1960s and early 70s, attracting household names to play including Sue Barker, Angela Jones, Mike Sangster and Alan Mills.

It now has 11 lawns and hosts national, European, and Croquet Association tournaments, playing a mix of friendly, internal and league matches.

In recent years Scrabble has been enjoyed at the club, for members who can no longer play the croquet who want to keep active minds.

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