A BOWLING centre is a good idea for Darlington town centre, which desperately needs a boost.

There are downsides to it. Darlington council is talking of investing £1.6m in the Dolphin leisure centre, which is a lot of money – although not in comparison to the £17m neighbouring Stockton council has borrowed to get a smart hotel operating in its town centre.

There is a worry that no private investor has seen the potential of bowling in Darlington and moved into the town itself – indeed, a decade or so ago, there was talk of a large alley where Sports Direct is today, but it didn't add up.

And there is an irony that there is a 1960s hulk behind the library that was built as a bowling alley and is now lying empty.

So we have to hope that, just as in Stockton, the officers have worked the figures out correctly so they are not gambling too outlandishly with public money.

But, if a town centre is to have a future, it needs to draw people in with something a little different. A bowling session, a film and a bite to eat would make a decent family outing, and increased footfall would help sustain the Dolphin Centre, which is an important asset.

If councils don't have faith in their town centres and show a little imagination, we might as well board everything up and lock the kids in their bedrooms with their iPads – with virtual bowling games on them.