Business, Community

Future of social club in jeopardy

Meeting chair Niel Sowry takes feedback from worried Clubs of Marlborough members. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Potential bankruptcy and claims of bullying are threatening the survival of one of Marlborough’s oldest clubs.

The running of the Clubs of Marlborough has come under fire from anxious members who fear for its future.

About 140 people packed into the Redwoodtown Community Hall on Sunday to voice their concerns and discuss a way forward.

Members say they have been kept in the dark by a non-communicative committee and fear the struggling club may go under.

President Jason Clouston, who alongside other committee members was invited to the meeting but did not attend, came under fire for alleged bullying tactics.

Meeting chair Niel Sowry warned the crowd to be careful to stick to facts as Clouston had threatened legal action over anything libelous.

“Anyone that wants to talk, I have to advise you to be very careful that what you say is factual and can be proven.

“Social media has been alive with comments, a lot of them we cannot substantiate.

“There has been a threat of legal action if anything libelous is said, so please be careful if you want to say something.”

The move comes after sweeping plans to restructure the Club were announced earlier this month, with staff facing redundancy.

Concerned members say they did not understand why the Club had not reopened under level 2.

Sowry says the Club received wage subsidy payments for 56 staff members over lockdown.

Official documentation from the wage subsidy website shows the club received $356,000.

Members have earlier written a letter to the committee calling for a vote of no confidence in Clouston and an extraordinary general meeting.

No meeting has yet taken place.

“We could wait two years and still not see a meeting so the issue of confidence or non-confidence in anyone on committee is not addressed,” Sowry says.

“You want to do something, you’ve got to do it according to the rules, and the rules are deficient.”

Sowry told the crowd he was working with Clubs New Zealand and legal representation in Wellington.

“We have a president who tries to rule by fear and intimidation.

“It appears to be that he’s a bully when it comes to staff, and anyone that wants to stand up and oppose him, they get the treatment.

Tina Beattie says she stood for the committee and served but was forced to resigned because of bullying.

She claims the bullying had continued after she resigned.

A Committee of six were voted by members to approach the committee and get lines of communication going.

Members say the club needed a new committee to ensure it thrived.

Jason Clouston says they have advised by our Solicitors to refrain from commenting on issues arising from the Clubs restructuring process which is currently ongoing.

“Members will be notified shortly on the time and date of the Extraordinary General Meeting requisitioned by the Sowrys.”

In a statement, RSA president Chris Bamber asked members to bear with them through this difficult time.

“It is a stressful time for all concerned in the Clubs of Marlborough restructure process.

“I know it is hard for our members not knowing what is happening, hearing all the rumours, out there but please bear with us for a little longer and know we are working our hardest at getting our Club back to a stage where we can all enjoy our Clubs’ facilities and activities again.”

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