Ten­nis cen­tre days could be num­bered

Huddersfield Daily Examiner - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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