Anyone for tennis? It'll cost you though
PLANS to charge for using the tennis courts at Eastville Park have met with a mixed reaction from the Friends group set up to improve the open space.
Cash-strapped Bristol City Council will introduce 'charging models' at three courts in the city, including at Eastville Park, with a view to see if this would work at other parks across Bristol.
People will be able to either pay per hour to book a court or purchase an annual pass. Any money generated will be put towards ensuring that the courts can be maintained more regularly and kept to a high standard.
Members of the public will still have free access to the courts at certain times in the week, with some concessionary rates on memberships available.
Sarah West, chair of Friends of Eastville Park, said members would be keeping a close eye on how the scheme pans out.
She said: "As a friends group, we welcome improvements to our park amenities. However, as one of the more economically deprived areas of Bristol, we are aware that charging for amenities can make them exclusive for those on low incomes. It’s good that the council have recognised the need to keep the tennis courts free at certain times. We will monitor the success of the redevelopment and new charging facilities, to work with both the Eastville Park community and Bristol City Council to ensure that the new scheme is successful and remains inclusive."
The charging model will also be introduced at St George Park in Redfield and Canford Park in Westbury-on-Trym.
Cllr Kye Dudd, cabinet member for sport, said: "We want to make sure everyone can access good quality sports facilities across the city to try and get more people active and encourage more local sporting talent. These tennis courts are well in need of refurbishment and this work will mean we put in place a system to make sure they can be regularly maintained and that future generations will be able to access good quality courts in their local park.
"With the promise of new coaching sessions available, I am hopeful that this will mean we will soon see lots of new comers to the sport picking up a racket and giving it a go."
This work is being part funded and carried out in partnership with the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) and is part of a £139,000 investment in 15 tennis courts across the city.
Sarah said the council now needs to look at reinstating toilets, to encourage people to use the park and its facilities.