Plans to introduce fees to Epsom and Ewell Borough’s currently free of charge tennis courts are underway, after several proposals were agreed upon by councillors at a meeting of the Environment Committee on Tuesday (13th June 2023). The plans will rely on the approval of a £20,000 grant from the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to cover the cost of a new gating and booking system.
The proposed fees start at £6 per court per hour with a maximum 5 people £40 household annual subscription available allowing for free bookings of up to 2 hours days. A 50% discount on the subscription is proposed for those in receipt of low-income benefits. Proposals would see the courts bookable three days in advance for those wishing to pay for a single session and up to seven days in advance for subscribers.
Proposed tennis court hourly costs: Ad hoc cost all courts £6.00. Additional cost for floodlit courts £6.00. Annual household subscription costs £40.00 and £20 for those in receipt of low- income benefits.
Income generated from the booking fees would be set aside solely for court maintenance, in line with recommendations agreed upon by the Committee.
Professional coaches will be required to book specific coaching slots and be prohibited from using regular ad-hoc or subscription booking services.
The report put forward to the Committee said that: “The agreement will ensure that court availability for casual play is protected, the core purpose of the parks. This will include restricting the coaching providers to a defined total number of hours to deliver the programme and ensuring that there is always a certain number of courts available for casual play.”
Coaches will also be required to provide a one-hour free community coaching session each week as part of their booking agreement.
If the LTA grant is approved, Epsom and Ewell Borough Council would be required to pay a £2,380 annual subscription for a 5-year period to cover the cost of servicing and maintaining the gates and online booking system.
The LTA has estimated the uptake annual subscriptions in the borough to be £1400 with annual income generated from the courts estimated at £27,107.
The Council currently provides and maintains 12 public tennis courts across the borough at 5 sites which are currently available free of charge to recreational players.
Alexandra Recreation Ground, Alexandra Road (three courts)
Court Recreation Ground, off Pound Lane (three courts)
Poole Road Recreation Ground, Poole Road (two courts)
Gibraltar Recreation Ground, West Street (two courts)
Auriol Park, Salisbury Road (two courts)
The report put forward to the Committee describes the current lack of service charge as a “missed opportunity for income generation.”
It also expresses concern for a delay in action stating that: “if we don’t pursue this opportunity the funding pot available will be depleted and an opportunity to implement the gate system to help the sustainability of our tennis courts will be missed.”
The date for implementation of the new gates and booking system is currently estimated for September 2023.