Ardagh slams decision for exclusive tennis at site

June 25 2018
Ardagh slams decision for exclusive tennis at site

The decision by Bristol City Council to invest in six tennis courts at the Ardagh has been called-in by council officials and will now be reconsidered at a sub-committee meeting to be held by 23 June.

Although the £550,000 investment by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), Sport England and Bristol City Council sounds like positive news, the decision to invest in exclusive tennis courts at the Ardagh is not part of the financial plan drawn up by the Ardagh Community Trust (ACT) who have been working for years on a community-led, fully-funded project to take over the running of the entire Horfield Common site at no ongoing cost to Bristol City Council. If this goes ahead the ACT say this will leave the community project with no means of generating enough income to pay for the ongoing maintenance of the whole site.

The new proposal is to upgrade six of the 11 courts at the site, which will remain under council control and used exclusively for tennis, as part of a city-wide bid to create a ‘sustainable sports model’. It will be funded by a £350,000 investment by the Lawn Tennis Association and £200,000 from Bristol City Council.

If this proposal goes ahead, users will have to pay to use gate-operated tennis facilities at the Ardagh, as well as in St George Park, Eastville Park and Canford Park, which are all due to be improved.

The ACT say their alternative proposal would enable the courts to be used more widely for multi-purpose sports, such as basketball, Tai-Chi and buggyfit, as well as tennis, something that their community research supports and is wanted by young people in particular. The courts would be in use for 85-90% of the time this way, rather than 50% as proposed by the LTA.

Sam Thomson, chair of the ACT, says: “We are incredibly frustrated at the situation. Without those courts we can’t generate enough money to maintain the site and keep it as a public asset. 

“We are the poster kids for Community Asset Transfer but this new proposal has delayed us by a year.”

Ardagh Community Trust have secured funding to make improvements to the site and their project has the full backing of Sport England, but cannot begin the work until the ownership of the tennis courts and the question of multi-sport use is settled. 

They are supported by the BCR Community Partnership, councillors from across the political spectrum and local councillors in wards surrounding the site.