Less than two weeks to Wimbledon and hundreds of free tennis sessions in Preston parks could be scrapped
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The city council had recommended making the courts on Ashton, Haslam and Moor Parks complimentary between 7am and 3pm Monday to Friday as part of a drive to attract more people to the game.
But We Do Tennis, a community interest company which has won the contract to run the courts, wants free use to be restricted to just one hour a day, seven days a week.
The plans will be debated by the council's cabinet tomorrow (Wednesday) at which members will vote on a whole raft of changes being brought in following a £150,000 revamp of 11 courts across the three parks.
The government funding was secured by the Lawn Tennis Association, the sport's governing body in Britain. £100,000 of that has been spent on resurfacing the six courts at Moor Park and improving the fencing. Haslam Park's three courts and the two on Ashton Park have been treated and repainted.
All three facilities now have a new electronic gate access system to combat misuse and vandalism and make sure only authorised players are able to use the courts.
Preston Council invited tenders for the contract to run the courts back in January when the cash had been confirmed. Only two companies made a bid and We Do Tennis, based in Hull, was successful. Its aim is to increase participation in tennis in the country and already work with a number of authorities in Lancashire and the wider North West.
The council suggested a £4 an hour court fee and free access to the courts between 7am and 3pm on weekdays - a total of 40 hours a week.
We Do Tennis has now come back with an alternative structure endorsed by the LTA and adopted by a large number if the sites it manages. It proposes a £4 an hour fee, but the withdrawal of the 7am to 3pm free sessions to be replaced by just one hour a day (including weekends) between 4pm and 5pm.
The company says it is "to encourage play for juniors/families in the time between school finishing and the traditional end of the working day." It also suggests some free provision "during a peak weekend time."