Portslade Bowls Club became Incorporated in its 63rd year of providing the sport of bowls to the local community of Portslade. The members’ decision came shortly after moving from their grass bowling green to a new all-weather bowling surface in Victoria Recreation Ground in 2020. That was a mutually agreed swap arrangement with the Council. The City Council wanted the old site in order to provide new homes and we were desperate for a new home ourselves. The green was becoming damaged with tree roots putting up new sprouts from trimmed trees on a nearby old railway bank. More importantly we had no on-site toilet facilities. The new facilities included a purpose-built pavilion long enough to bowl short-mat bowls during the colder months. The all-weather bowling green also permits the brave to bowl outside throughout the year. But there was a consequence in that the City Council now want us to lease the site and this is currently in negotiation.
Concurrent with the move, the Committee were also exploring ‘incorporation’. BE had advised clubs to incorporate in order to protect individuals from legal claims in respect of accidents. The club members decided that it would be beneficial to become a ‘not for profit, limited liability company’. And so the club’s assets were eventually passed to the new company on October 1st 2023.
Becoming incorporated makes the club a separate legal entity so that the club members are no longer personally responsible for any debts. They simply become liable to pay £1 towards any future liabilities or should the club become insolvent. The change has required the club to re-register with HMRC for its Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) status but this is still ongoing. Whilst CASC status offers benefits, it also requires us to meet certain rules & obligations laid down by HMRC.
The Limited Company structure means that the club is a distinct legal entity; easier for the club to enter into contractual arrangements (e.g. seek grant funding, borrow money, lease buildings or obtain legal advice.) It is now the Company rather than the club’s individual members which is responsible for the club’s obligations and debts, subject to any court verdict of negligence.
The disadvantage of incorporation is that the regulation and administration of Limited Companies is more onerous and there are legal penalties should the directors fail to comply. The directors have duties and responsibilities in Company Law. (i.e. to act in the best interest of the company and to comply with its Articles of Association). The company has to file its annual accounts, an annual return and the director’s details at Companies House.
Members however remain entitled to attend members’ meetings and vote which includes appointing (or removing) directors and the company’s statuary officers such as safeguarding and health & safety. The Company’s Articles of Association were carefully designed to permit the Bowls Club to self-manage itself through its traditional and familiar Committee. So it’s no change for the individual member who can now enjoy the much better facilities. And newcomers are being made very welcome. More importantly, we can now accept applicants who bowl whilst in wheelchairs.
The Club Members who currently are the Directors of the Club are;
Marion Whitney Company Chairperson Raymond Aylward Executive Director
Gillian Sell Company Treasurer John Green Company Secretary