£500,000 tennis refurb that will turn free courts into pay-to-play

The council has announced what it calls an “exciting” £500,000 refurbishment project for the borough’s tennis courts – while trying to hide the fact that what have previously been free facilities will now become pay-to-play.

£500,000-love: Croydon is contributing just 10% of the cost of the half-a-million refurbishments

Cash-strapped Croydon isn’t even offering to organise any coaching at the refurbed courts, though it is, together with operators Greenwich Leisure, asking residents to come forward to act as volunteer tennis trainers.

The bulk of the money for the refurb works is coming from the Lawn Tennis Association, one of the country’s wealthiest sports bodies, thanks to their profiteering at Wimbledon each summer. They are notorious for failing to convert that cash into dynamic, new tennis talents taking up the game, though, mainly due to the paucity of facilities and lack of coaching at grass-roots and junior levels.

In case that point needed emphasising, when a private members’ sports club in Purley upgraded its tennis facilities, they spent five times as much on the refurb at one venue as is being spent across the 32 council-owned tennis courts.

Government money is also involved in the nationwide Park Tennis Project, while Croydon is “investing” (their choice of word) £54,300 “after bidding for capital funding”.

The council announcement refers to upgrades of “all the borough’s courts”, which will “have a new gate-access system to keep them secure and to deter antisocial behaviour”. The kind of thing that can be deterred if GLL employed staff to monitor and maintain the facilities…

“Players will be able to book sessions in advance,” the council said, burying in the official press release this little weasel phrase: “A small charge will be introduced, which will be re-invested to maintain the new courts for everyone to enjoy.”

Operators GLL are already charging up to £8.10 per session for courts booked at what they call their “key tennis hubs”: Addiscombe Recreation Ground, Ashburton Park and Biggin Wood.

On their website, GLL says that at the 11 other venues, “The booking system will help ensure that users will be able to reserve a court at their chosen time.” Which is nice…

The council says it is working “to ensure free tennis sessions are available each week for people of all ages and playing levels. Equipment will also be provided for these sessions so that the sport can be accessible to all…

“The new facilities will enable more people to take up tennis, helping to improve physical and mental wellbeing.”

Jason Perry, the borough’s piss-poor Mayor, doesn’t look like he is a regular player of tennis, even thought there are a set of courts in Lloyd Park, just across the road from his £1million home. The Lloyd Park tennis courts are unmentioned in the council release.

Perry pontificated, “Tennis is a great way to enjoy sport and get some exercise while spending time with friends or family – a double boost for our health and wellbeing.”

The tennis courts being renovated are at: Addiscombe Recreation Ground, Ashburton Park, Biggin Woods, Coulsdon Memorial Ground, Grangewood Park, Park Hill Recreation Ground, Purley Beeches, Rickman Hill Recreation Ground, Shirley Church Recreation Ground, South Norwood Lake and Grounds, South Norwood Recreation Ground, Trumble Gardens, Upper Norwood Recreation Ground and Wandle Park.

The refurbishment works are due to begin this month. Addiscombe Rec, Ashburton Park and Biggin Woods will remain open during refurbishments.

The council also invited people to email GLL “to register your interest in supporting GLL to deliver… the community coaching programme”.

  • If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, or want to publicise your residents’ association or business, or if you have a local event to promote, please email us with full details at inside.croydon@btinternet.com
  • Our comments section on every report provides all readers with an immediate “right of reply” on all our content
  • ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS: Croydon was named among the country’s rottenest boroughs for a SIXTH successive year in 2022 in the annual round-up of civic cock-ups in Private Eye magazine

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Croydon Council, Croydon parks, GLL - Better, Leisure services, Sport, Wandle Park and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to £500,000 tennis refurb that will turn free courts into pay-to-play

  1. Simon Squires says:

    When we were kids we used to go to the Biggin Hill woods tennis courts once or twice a summer with our grandad. They were pay to play back then (1980s). I didn’t realise they’d become free at some point.

    • There must have been at least three significant changes in the way the council manages its leisure facilities in the past 40 years, Simon. Although this might well be the first time in four decades that those tennis courts have been resurfaced.

      Croydon’s only public athletics track remains unusuable for competition for lack of resurfacing.

  2. Don McNair says:

    It doesn’t surprise me at all that in the poorest of boroughs, the ‘council’ is now making us pay to play. All the while that fat slug is bleeding the coffers of 82K a year for sfa

  3. Ian Kierans says:

    The devil is in the detail.

    In this case the wording. £8.10 is actually less than .01% of Mr Perry’s Mayoral salary of £84k and could be viewed as a ”small charge”.

    However apply that .01% to the living wage salary on 40 hours a week and that becomes £2.50 which is a relatively more reasonable small charge.

    The language being used is deceptive and dishonest.

    This Mayor apparently does not want to spend or is not allowed to spend on necessities of society. And that is the brutal reality. Blames the causes of that on previous idiotic spending and the allowance of stupid borrowing knowing you could not pay back if you wish to get political digs in.

    But the reality is there is no money.

    However this Mayor and the current government is not doing anything now about that. and that is solely their fault.

    In tennis this country has a serious dearth of trained and dedicated talent at top level in tennis and some other sports. Perhaps the LTA could do more, Lottery funding has in many areas benefited success.

    But this this Council has done little if nothing and presided over moving sports access out of reach of many with pricing and provision.

    There are real reasons teenagers and kids are on the streets causing mischief and violence.
    One of those reasons is their exclusion – from school, sports and other sociable extra curricular activities.
    We are facing a deterioration of health in both body and mind.

    Mayor Perry’s Councils actions and inactions are directly contributing to that.

Leave a Reply