Bowled over with news of funding win, Ashford Memorial Bowling Club Secretary Manager Mal Allen, left, Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall, and Chairman Jason Luckett discuss the new club grant that will construct new emergency and overnight accommodation.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

THE Ashford Memorial Bowling Club will use an $85,000 State Government grant to build some overnight accommodation in the village for emergency workers, visitors and even tourists.

The club will turn an old bar that hasn’t been used for over 25 years and an under-utilised meeting and storage area into four dormitory-style units to accommodate 12 people.

Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall has delivered news of the funding this week to Ashford Memorial Bowling Club and its Chairman Jason Luckett and said the grant would allow the club to build emergency short stay accommodation in a town that currently has no overnight accommodation at all.

“The club identified a gap in what Ashford has to offer a few years ago and looked at how the club could fill that void, particularly when it comes to providing a place to stay for emergency personnel or short term emergency relief for victims of accidents or other disasters,” Mr Marshall said.

“There’s nowhere for anyone to stay overnight at Ashford unless you bring your tent and all amenities and it is also an issue for a lot of people who also come to see family members in the Sunhaven aged care nursing home and hospice.

“Basically if you come, you have to drive back to Inverell 60km away or to Texas, 70 km north, and if you’re here for the weekend or more than a day, then you have to do that drive again to find somewhere to stay.

“The club through Jason Luckett has put a great case together to secure this funding from the State Government’s ClubGRANTS program and they’ll use it to provide a much needed resource for the community.”

“Jason has a long list that has backed up their argument to get this emergency relief infrastructure grant, including family who come for funerals or special events like birthday and reunion celebrations, and for people caught in flooding or fire incidents who need someone to stay, and others who might get stranded here with other transport problems.

“So, really putting in some accommodation in the club is adding to the vital infrastructure of Ashford overall because it provides another asset that doesn’t exist here and will do so much good when it does.”

Mr Luckett said he’d be twisting a few arms and calling in a fair few favours from licensed tradie mates to get the building works underway.

“We want to do three double rooms with a shared bathroom and a family room with ensuite and to do that we’ll use some wasted space in the lower split level part of the club and put in about four internal walls to create that dormitory type accommodation,” Mr Luckett said.

“We’re not trying to turn it into the Hilton by any means but we want to get as good a budget-accommodation result as we can with our money.”

He said while it would give the bowling club an extra asset, it wasn’t a profit-driver and would bring extensive benefits to the town generally, although any revenue from accommodation would be put back into club activities.

There was also hope that some income could underwrite expanding the project into a second stage to build more rooms and a community galley-type kitchen for charities, service clubs and emergency services to use for events like Anzac and Australia Day or other fundraisers.

“The accommodation will mean a fair bit for our town because it will expand business opportunities for other people and it is really inconvenient for many people who come here and there’s nowhere to stay overnight at all,” Mr Luckett said.

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