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pétanque boulesTown councillors have supported a plan to build two pétanque courts on the Town Meadow in the centre of Gillingham.

The idea is to put the two courts on the hardcore track near the Red Lion pub car park to ensure that no grassy area would be lost from their construction.

The cost of building them is estimated to be around £3,180 and councillors on the town’s finance and policy committee have agreed to apply to Dorset Council for unused funds that are available for leisure facilities in the Chantry Fields area of the town.

Proposing the idea, Councillor Graham Poulter told fellow councillors on Monday: ‘It is a game which can be played by all ages and of all abilities. It will attract people to the Town Meadow and would also encourage further footfall to the town centre, something we, as a council, are seeking to achieve.’

Councillor Poulter said that he had ‘floated’ the idea of building the courts, which would be free for use by Gillingham residents and could also be used for competitions, and said that the feedback from around the town had been ‘extremely encouraging’.

Pétanque or boules is a French game which is growing in popularity here. It usually involves two teams of two players, each of whom has two boules. The aim of the game is to land the boules as close as possible to the jack or cochonnet.

‘This is a game in which a family containing several generations can participate for fun as well as it being a competitive sport,’ said Councillor Poulter.

Dorset Council has confirmed that there is currently some unused so-called section 106 money available for use in relation to creating leisure or recreation facilities in the Chantry Fields area. S.106 funds are money that developers agree to provide in relation to a development project and which are earmarked for particular purposes.

Councillor Barry Von Clemens told the committee it would be a ‘wonderful use of section 106 funds’.

Councillors agreed to apply for up to £4,000 from Dorset Council for the courts and to set up a working group to oversee the project if the funding is approved.

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