Game, Set and Match – The End Of The Hated Elmbridge Tennis Tax?

Game, Set and Match

The End Of The Hated Elmbridge Tennis Tax?

 

July 1st 2018

On Wednesday the 4th of July the Elmbridge Council Cabinet will be discussing a proposal to offer free access to the borough’s tennis courts for the period of the 6 week school summer holidays (with a recommendation that members support this proposal) with a further review of the scheme to be presented to members at the end of the 6 week free period.

Now that the report pack for the July 4th Cabinet meeting has been published a clearer picture is emerging of what seems to be strong resistance from the LTA (as well as, rather bizarrely, Elmbridge Council’s own officers) to the proposal to scrap the Elmbridge Tennis Tax including:

  • The LTA hiring a Part Time Tennis Development Officer assigned to Elmbridge Borough Council with a remit to “…own, manage and implement the key actions of the plan to drive the development of parks tennis forward to maximise participation [of the pay to play scheme]”

(https://www.lta.org.uk/coach-teach/coaching-jobs/tennis-development-officer—elmbridge-bc/)

  • The LTA “…would not be able to support [the 6 week free period] if this was to become part of an annual summer programme (or the model was changed permanently from charged to free)…”

From the report pack it appears that, disappointingly, access to the courts will continue to be via the booking system so anyone wishing to use the courts would still need to register and book in advance – this booking option has not yet been made available.

We also suspect a little bit of an internal power struggle between the Elmbridge Borough Council ‘Officers’ (who are who are doing their utmost to support and expanding the Tennis Tax) and the elected members (including the Elmbridge Council Cabinet) who wish the review to include permanent change so that no resident or family pay to use our public tennis courts (professional coaches will still be charged).

So who actually runs Elmbridge Borough Council?

The Councillors elected to represent residents and families?

The LTA?

Or Elmbridge Borough Council ‘Officers’?

We should know more following this Wednesdays (July 4th) Cabinet meeting – and you can view it live, right here:

https://elmbridge.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/360579

If you miss the live webcast we will have a recording available as well as comment and commentary….

You can view the Public Pack Agenda Document in full here:

http://mygov.elmbridge.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=146&MId=2764

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June 21st 2018

With perfect symmetry you may remember that almost to the day (June 23rd 2017) we threw our weight behind the campaign launched by local Elmbridge Residents to oppose the universally hated so called (by Judy Murray no less) ‘Tennis Tax’ introduced by the Residents Association during their short lived control of Elmbridge Borough Council.

68% of respondents to the Council’s own consultation were against locking up the tennis courts.

Nearly 1400 local residents signed a petition against this over a period of a couple of weeks this time last year.

You only have to read some of the comments made on the online petition by local families highlighting the negative impact to their everyday lives to be absolutely certain this was the wrong thing to do.

Link to petition comments

Against this total opposition the Residents Association coalition cabinet at Elmbridge Council still forced it through.

You may remember the BBC News feature highlighting the lack of use of tennis courts across the Elmbridge borough in the run up to Wimbledon (we are actively discussing a ‘success story’ follow up with them!)

The public support of Judy Murray.

The public support of founder of Tennis for Free Tony Hawks.

You may also remember that our support of the residents campaign and petition drew angry opposition from those with a vested interest.

Open hostility from Cllr Roy Green and Cllr Christine Elmer (who are both very passionate in their support of locking up our public tennis courts to local families and residents) and various other members of the Residents Association and Liberal Democrats short lived coalition.

Demonstrating how out of touch they are and utter disdain shown to the opinion and feeling of local families and residents the outgoing Leader of the Residents Association actually highlighted their locking up of public tennis courts as one of the achievements of the Residents Associations short stay in office (he did also mention the disastrous change of company collecting rubbish across the borough so pinches of salt at the ready)

Quoting in his leaving speech:

“…Working with the Lawn Tennis Association we have protected and enhanced the provision of public tennis courts across the Borough and hope this will continue to flourish…”

Words fail me.

http://www.elmbridge.gov.uk/news/councillor-selleck-16-may-2018/

With figures supplied by Elmbridge Council themselves it has been demonstrated that over the course of the last month (May 2018) Tennis Court usage across the entire borough has been less than 17 minutes per court per day.

But, a year on it was all worth it!

We have it on very good authority that papers have been submitted for the 4th of July cabinet meeting to approve removing all charges for Tennis Court access across Elmbridge during the School summer holiday 6 period whilst a more permanent solution for 100% free access is discussed and agreed.

We would personally like to thank Gillian Harvey-Bush for leading this campaign so effectively and robustly and never giving up.

I spoke to Gillian personally only a week or so ago about the latest request for tennis court usage lodged with Elmbridge Borough Council – Just because we’ve been quiet doesn’t mean we gave up.

With thanks to Gillian for extracting the information from Elmbridge Borough Council we can publish the usage figures of the locked up tennis courts.

 
Less than 17 minutes usage per court PER DAY across the entire borough.
Tennis court statistics as requested from Elmbridge Borough Council – what a disgraceful and shameful waste of public facilities.

“The AVERAGE usage PER court PER day was:

During peak season 12th June – 31st Oct 2017 
Including usage by coaches – 1.43hrs per court per day
Not including coaches – 1.16hrs per court per day

May 2018 (last month)
Including usage by coaches – 0.36 hrs per court per day
Not including coaches – 0.28hrs per court per day.

Monies raised in the year:
£16,899 – casual coaching passes for Cricket Way, Oatlands Rec, Grovelands Rec, Playball and Claygate Village Netball + annual memberships fees
£5,994.58 – pay & play
£4,850 – contracted coaches fees

In terms of the cost of maintaining, most of this is included in the main Grounds Maintenance contract. In addition we have continued to work with Burley’s in order to maintain their schedule of works and treatments. In additional we have increased some of the sweeping routines where needed, which is covered within the contract.

Additional improvements include replacing nets that are perished, 4 this year at £400 each.

New gates signage has also been produced and secured more permanently at around £1200″

As of this evening (Friday the 22nd June) we have had more support from Judy Murray who expressed her joy at the ‘Fabulous Result’:

I would also like to thank everyone who supports The Hersham Hub. We are family run. Family funded. Not for profit.

Without you we wouldn’t be here.

New balls please.

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June 23rd 2017

Locking up Elmbridge Councils Tennis Courts

There has been a huge amount of anger and disgust at the Residents Association cabinet at Elmbridge Borough Councils decision to lock up 29 tennis courts across the borough with access only available to those willing to pay an annual fee.

The sight of locked up, empty tennis courts across the borough in the best start to a summer in memory and with the school holidays approaching is nothing short of disgusting.

Accusations of greed and corruption have been rife…but the council say this is backed by the LTA so it must be good for tennis, right?

Well, what is good for the LTA doesn’t necessary align with what is good for a community.

We are proudly supporting this petition raised by a concerned local resident:

https://www.change.org/p/andy-muddyman-elmbridge-borough-council-make-public-tennis-courts-free-again?recruiter=50162182&utm_source=share_for_starters&utm_medium=copyLink

Judy Murray, Proud Mum of Wimbledon Champion and local resident Andy Murray, supports us and agrees that there shouldn’t be a local tennis tax!

Lets have a little look at some facts, as published by Elmbridge Borough Council.

(all qoutes are taken from original Elmbridge Council documents which you can download at the bottom of this page)

Elmbridge Council very kindly offered a consultation period…’tell us what you think’….

The consultation clearly demonstrated that 68% of respondents would not use the tennis courts if they had to pay – 68% seems a very high percentage of respondents to completely ignore….

But why let public opinion expressed in a public consultation get in the way of a good plan.

So why are they doing it?

Strangely the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) are giving Elmbridge Council £25,000 to pay for the locks to shut you and your families out of the tennis courts.

Don’t take my word for it:

How is that promoting grass roots tennis?

The sinister part here is the proviso that the money will only be given by the LTA to Elmbridge Council if the gates are all locked up before the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament starts….

Surely this has gone through the proper channels, reviewed and tested…?

We hear that Elmbridge Council procured £77,000 of community money to start a trial. If you don’t know the CIL is a fund that developers pay to the council so that the council can put it to good use in the community. Anyway, back to the £77,000 the council took from the CIL fund for a trial:

With 68% of respondents rejecting the charges surely this would the end of their ludicrous partnership with the LTA…..

It turns out they didn’t want to do the pilot after all, it seems that……guess what…..Elmbridge Residents STILL don’t want to pay to play tennis and would rather use the free courts!

So the pilot was canceled after consultation with Elmbridge Councils LTA paymasters.

Not sure where that £77,000 of community fund money has gone but I’m sure its safe.

And interesting to note that LTA ‘insight’ states that any free tennis facilities must be further than 15 minutes away – I’m assuming this is why ALL Elmbridge Courts are being locked down at the same time to stop families from finding free courts elsewhere.

So, could there possibly be a financial angle here that hasn’t been mentione

We happen to know that the projected income from the tennis courts open and free to use by the community is £3,500 (assuming this is from teachers/coaches?)

BUT, with these charges the income will be over £26,000

Why are those figures important? You may remember a bit of a furore earlier in the year when the Residents Association, shortly after getting the keys to Civic Centre, got all excited and gave themselves a 12.8% allowance rise.

Well this amounted to around an extra £30,000 stress on the councils budget, and now they are driving through measures to claw back most of that against the wishes of 86% of people who responded to their public consultation!

But you cry, maybe it is all in the greater good and to help promote tennis – our belief is the LTA are throwing money at Elmbridge Council to either:

  1. Stop the casual player using facilities
  2. Stop families using local tennis facilities
  3. Secure public funded facilities for ‘serious’ tennis players only
  4. Secure public funded tennis facilitates for LTA events

Whilst we are completely politically independent we cant help but re-engineer the Labour Party campaign phrase – this is clearly ‘For the Few, Not the Many’.

A return to tennis as an ‘elite’ sport.

Please help to reject these unfair charges.

Please help return the tennis courts back to the community and support this petition:

https://www.change.org/p/andy-muddyman-elmbridge-borough-council-make-public-tennis-courts-free-again?recruiter=50162182&utm_source=share_for_starters&utm_medium=copyLink

Park Tennis Courts Management Proposal

Tennis Courts Survey Results September 2016 V1
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Have you joined our Community Facebook Group?
www.facebook.com/groups/HershamHubCommunity/

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