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HomeCommunityLabour Councillors outvoted when challenging plans for pay-to-play tennis in Harrow

Labour Councillors outvoted when challenging plans for pay-to-play tennis in Harrow

Harrow Council have rejected attempts by Labour Councillors to reconsider the decision in relation to the running of 37 tennis courts in 13 parks across Harrow, where a new charging system will be rolled out this year.

The Lawn Tennis Association have granted Harrow Council £445k to upgrade the tennis courts with Labour claiming that the Conservative Harrow Council have “capitalised on this and announced plans for the future provision of tennis in the Borough”.

At a meeting on Wednesday evening, the Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr. David Perry, along with colleagues, ‘Called-In’ the decision seeking the ruling administration to re-think its decision based on various factors where Labour claim that the Cabinet did “not have the sufficient information to make the decision to proceed.”

The main argument put forward by Labour was lack of consultation with park users and Harrow residents to proceed with “outsourcing the running of Harrow park tennis courts” and charging residents for their use.

The Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr. David Perry said: “It is disgraceful that the Conservative Council have by-passed park user groups, sports clubs and residents and failed to consult on their plans to privatise the running of our tennis courts and impose costs on park users and young people. The Council should be using the grant funding from the LTA to upgrade our courts and install a Council run booking system with free play in order to encourage more participation in the sport. Profits should not come before residents’ enjoyment of such facilities and the fact a small percentage of free-use is proposed is disappointing when the Council is wasting thousands of pounds to spend on a new corporate logo and promotional material.”

“We are therefore supporting the community run petition against privatisation and charging”.

In response, Leader of the Council, Cllr Paul Osborn said: “Currently there are 37 public tennis courts in Harrow, of which 17 are rated as being in a ‘poor’ condition or ‘unplayable’. The proposal, which would secure nearly half a million pounds in funding, would bring all 37 courts up to a ‘good’ standard.

“To secure funding from the Lawn Tennis Association, the Council is required to set up a maintenance fund to keep the refurbished courts up to a good standard. In all their years in power, Harrow Labour did not put any money aside to upgrade or properly maintain Harrow’s tennis courts.

“Most other leisure services, provided by the Council, charge a fee to play/participate. The previous Labour leadership, which run Harrow Council for most of the last 12 years, were happy to charge for nearly all leisure services. The Council has set a fee for tennis courts for a number of years and the former Labour administration increased this as recently as January of this year.

“Labour fails to mention that there will be free coaching sessions in at least 30% of Harrow’s parks as part of this agreement with the Lawn Tennis Association. Harrow will, under this initiative, achieve a higher level of skilled tennis players across the Borough, which will also feed into tennis clubs – and maybe another Emma Raducanu!

“The proposal to refurbish the tennis courts and introduce an hourly charge is subject to a public consultation. We encourage every resident who uses the tennis courts to make their views known through the consultation. We would also encourage residents who are unable to play tennis due to their local courts being in a poor condition to contribute to the consultation. The outcome of the consultation will guide the final decision on the investment in our tennis courts.

“Therefore, and as usual, Harrow Labour are playing petty party-political games and Harrow’s tennis courts have been caught in the crossfire. Labour have left most of the tennis courts in the borough in a bad condition with no plans or money set aside for maintenance. Harrow Conservatives will get on with the job of upgrading our tennis courts, making Harrow an even better place to live and ensuring that the Council puts residents first.”