Barnet Post

Barnet Post

Charges for council tennis courts set to be served across Barnet

Residents will likely need to pay to access council-run tennis courts in Barnet in future, as part of cost savings at the civic centre

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Charges for council-owned tennis courts could be rolled out across Barnet after the town hall judged a pilot scheme to be a success.

The fees, which would be introduced alongside a new booking system, are expected to generate £95,000 for the council over three years.

A report presented to the environment committee on Monday reveals the department aims to save £6million up to 2025 amid “unprecedented challenges” caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tennis court charges are one of the main areas of savings identified for the next financial year. Fees for an adult are listed at £7.77 per hour for a court for 2022/23, with the equivalent price for juniors set at £3.86.

Geoff Mee, the council’s executive director of environment, told the meeting: “We started charging for the use of tennis courts last year, with a couple of different ways of doing it – one was by computer, another was by keypad. 

“Those two experiments were very successful, and we are looking to spread that out to all the rest of the tennis courts in Barnet, and we will be investing considerable amounts of money in resurfacing tennis and basketball courts.”

Under questioning from Labour environment spokesperson Alan Schneiderman, Geoff said the pilot scheme, involving a number of tennis courts, had been “very well subscribed to” and “welcomed by people because [the charges] gave some surety that they could get on to the courts”.

He added: “When it was just a complete free-for-all, nobody knew whether they were going to be able to get on the courts or not. It is a booking system, but it is a paid-for booking system.”

But Cllr Scheiderman also questioned whether the charges would be a “disincentive” to would-be tennis players, suggesting the council ought to be encouraging more young stars to follow the likes of Emma Raducanu.

Geoff said the council was “effectively oversubscribed” on the courts where fees had been introduced, and he pointed out that the council already charges for squash courts, swimming pools and other sports.

Peter Zinkin, who chaired the committee in Dean Cohen’s absence, said the charges would lead to more courts becoming available because they would allow the council to bring courts back into use.

The planned charging scheme is set to be finalised in a report presented to a future meeting of the committee.

Parking and skip hire are the other main areas of savings earmarked for the upcoming financial year. On parking, the report reveals the council plans to set up “a programme of parking controls aimed at addressing requests from residents and anticipated need, to meet the council’s traffic management obligations”. It is expected to generate savings of £3m over three years.

Under further questioning from Cllr Schneiderman, Geoff revealed a lot of the income is set to come from the introduction of more controlled parking zones (CPZs), which involve issuing residents with permits to park in their streets. Those without permits, such as commuters, face penalties if they park in CPZs during their hours of operation.

The environment chief assured the committee there were no plans for a borough-wide CPZ, and the zones would be introduced in response to requests from residents.

The savings programme and fees and charges for 2022/23 were agreed after Conservative committee members voted in favour of the report’s recommendations. Labour members of the committee voted against.