Charges for council-run tennis courts to help bring in new investment

The Lawn Tennis Association could invest £539,000 to upgrade courts in eleven Enfield parks, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

credit Enfield Council
credit Enfield Council

Residents will have to pay to use tennis courts in parks across Enfield under council plans to secure half-a-million pounds worth of investment.

The Lawn Tennis Association, the sport’s national governing body, is offering a cash boost of £539,000 to upgrade courts in eleven of the borough’s parks.

A council report published last week reveals the funding – which comes from a £30million pot set to be invested in tennis courts across the country – aims to increase grassroots participation in tennis. But the investment is dependent on the courts generating “sufficient ongoing levels of income” to keep them in good condition.

Charges are already in place at two tennis court sites in the borough; Firs Farm Recreation Ground and Broomfield Park. The courts are free to use between 9am and 5pm on weekdays but cost £5 per hour during evenings and weekends.

The report recommends a similar scheme for the eleven sites, with residents using an online booking system receiving a pin code that will allow them to access the courts.

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If the plans are approved, income will also be raised by allowing a private company to offer tennis coaching and provide court maintenance, with the firm paying an annual fee to the council.

The report reveals council bosses recommend fully outsourcing the running of the courts “because evidence from Firs Farm Recreation Ground has shown it leads to high levels of usage, well-maintained facilities and a variety of ways to take part in tennis”.

According to the report, at least 30% of the refurbished sites must have a free, coach-led tennis session available to residents, which includes the provision of tennis equipment if required.

The tennis courts at Lincoln Road in Bush Hill Park were ruled out of the upgrade scheme as the costs – estimated to be “in the region of £150,000 to £200,000” – were too high. But the report reveals the courts could be improved using the income raised from the tennis operator.

Courts at Pymmes Park were also left out because of damage caused by tree roots, but the report reveals the council now plans to carry out resurfacing works to bring them up to standard.

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