Former Avondale Bowling Club members want their club back
A group of former Avondale Bowling Club members say they are not "riff-raffs".
They are telling the "other side of the story" after Arthur 'Pat' Bell told Stuff he had gone about cleaning up the west Auckland club since he became president five years ago.
Back in September the club was lucky to have a restricted six-month liquor licence renewal when commissioners put it on notice to clean up its act.
Neighbours told the renewal hearing that patrons often left the premises drunk and disorderly, and reported a number of violent incidents and public urination. Police said it was "operating as a tavern".
Membership at the club has plummeted from about 150 to 80 members over the past year.
"It was a case of if you didn't leave you either got barred or you got a physical confrontation," Norman Pollard says.
Pollard was a member of the club for 19 years and a former club captain. He left the club earlier this year, he says, due to the behaviour of the current president.
Bell, 59, has convictions for drink driving, as well as one for assault after an incident at the club on New Year's Eve 2014.
Along with four other former members who have left the club over the past couple of years, Pollard says there were no complaints about the behaviour at the club under previous presidents.
Bell told Stuff in October that he has saved the club from being closed down "a long time ago", and has gone about banning troublesome members.
"One by one I got rid of them," he said. "We got rid of all the riff-raffs. We are not called the Avondale pub anymore, we are called the Avondale Bowling Club."
The five former members say they love the club but are angry at the way people have been treated, and object to being labelled "riff-raffs".
The atmosphere at the club has gone downhill in the past few years, they say, and it is now in financial trouble.
Pollard says he could "get 40 people down here at least" to back this up.
Bell says the former members can say what they like.
"Are they riff-raffs? Well they are riff-raffs – because they caused a lot of troubles at the club," he says.
"I try to run a club and I'm doing what I think is best for Avondale. It's a family club ... and we encourage people to play bowls."
Bell says there has been no trouble with the police or the club's liquor licence recently.
"They've been down a few times when we had functions and they are quite happy with how things are running at the moment. We've got a very happy club."
Norman claims that when disgruntled members tried to vote Bell out from the presidency, they found themselves outnumbered by people signed up within 24 hours of the annual general meeting.
Bell says the annual general meeting vote was not stacked, and everybody voting had been a member for a while.
"I think they are pretty harsh what they have said about me. Every election I have won by about 20 to 25 [votes]."
Former member Bruce Keene was president of the club for the 1999/2000 year.
He says he was recently verbally barred from the attending the club.
"The gentleman [Bell] is very hard to get on with," Keene says.
He says Avondale Bowling Club used to be the best around.
"We came from nothing to holding five New Zealand titles and we were the top club in the country [in 1998/1999]."
Bell says he doesn't want any troublemakers back.
"These people they ain't going to stop. The only reason that they want me out of there is because they can all come back – and the club would probably lose its [liquor] licence then."
Alfreda Williams has been on Avondale Bowling Club's board of directors for the past three years and says the club has "cleaned up " and she's has been part of that.
Back in the "pub days" people thought they could do what they want, she says.
"People do not like changes. They have been around there for years where they can just do whatever, run amok ... we want people to understand that this is a bowling club.
"If you want to drink go and find a place where you just go there to drink."