Tennis centre days could be numbered
A PLAN to shut part of Kirklees’ only public indoor tennis courts to create a children’s play area and climbing wall, is being served up.
Kirklees Active Leisure (KAL) confirmed last summer that it was considering the future of Batley Tennis Centre.
Members were told the whole thing could be shut down as it was not making enough money.
A report for Kirklees Council, the landlords of the site, has now revealed the options put forward.
They include: doing nothing, full conversion losing all courts, using half the centre for tennis and half for children’s activities, and, lastly, upgrading the tennis courts.
Members of the tennis centre have told the Examiner they are angry that an offer from the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to continue funding the site if it is left alone, looks set to be snubbed.
Instead, councillors are being advised to spend £1.6m to convert half the centre into a soft play area and “clip and climb” facility.
The report also reveals plans to spend a further £1.5m converting part of the hall at Dewsbury sports centre with similar children’s facilities.
At Batley, it has been revealed that the Lawn Tennis Association has asked for two more years to try and turn the struggling centre around.
It has offered a £75,000 investment and vowed to employ a new tennis manager to boost use of the centre.
Council officials have declared the LTA bid as “high risk” as it relies on increasing the use of the courts to higher levels than previously seen – 90% occupancy during evenings and weekends.
Officers say they gave the LTA 12 months to improve things last year and they had not been able to meet their targets.
A member of Batley Tennis Club, who did not want to be named, told the Examiner that the full-time managers and coaches employed to boost its fortunes had all resigned, which made it impossible.
“They should give the LTA a chance to get it going again,” the source said. “To me, it’s a bad use of taxpayers’ money when the LTA have said they will put more money in to try and keep it going.”
They added: “I don’t see how loud music from the play area is compatible with tennis. It’s going to be impossible to concentrate.”
Kirklees Active Leisure has suggested that any tennis users who cannot use Batley could play at the John Charles Centre in south Leeds.
It says a survey found only 22% of its users came from the Batley and Dewsbury areas.
The LTA has been asked for comment.
Members of Kirklees Council’s Cabinet are due to decide on the way forward at their Huddersfield Town Hall meeting on Tuesday.
If they agree with the plan Batley would be converted in 2017/18 and Dewsbury the year after.