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Tennis courts may charge fees to recoup work costs

The tennis courts in Herne Bay Memorial Park
The tennis courts in Herne Bay Memorial Park

Free tennis courts could be put under lock and key as the council considers ways to recoup money from resurfacing work. Plans to charge to use the Memorial Park facilities have been put forward by Hampton councillor Peter Lee less than four weeks before the start of Wimbledon. It could see the use of new padlocks being placed on the courts, with those interested in playing having to buy a key. Canterbury City Council says the courts are in desperate need of repair, with work due to start imminently. Cllr Lee told a meeting of Bay councillors:

“At the moment the courts are free of charge, and because they are open all the time, all sorts of things could happen in there that we would rather not happen. But I feel that if we are to spend substantial amounts of money then perhaps we should have some means of having keys and charging for them to go in. The money spent to improve them means we should be looking to recoup it in some way.”

Cllr Peter Lee
Cllr Peter Lee

The idea won some support from Cllr Peter Vickery-Jones and Cllr Andrew Cook, who discussed how a scheme might work. But Reculver ward councillor Jennie Edwards said introducing a charge would in fact cost more money as someone would need to be employed to enforce it. She said:

“The courts have stayed open all this time and been absolutely fine. Any charges would cause extra work for the council that isn’t actually needed and could be spent elsewhere. With the amount the courts are used it’s probably not worth introducing the charge. The courts have been free for years, why penalise people now? If the council want to be encouraging people to exercise then putting in a charge will be very negative.”

Cllr Edwards said the courts are popular during the summer and are an important part of encouraging sports participation following the 2012 Olympic Games. She added:

“I used to go down there and play with my brother in my teenage years. Neither of us were big tennis players, but it got us out there doing something.”

Herne Bay Gazette, May 29th 2014

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