Tennis players will have to pay for time on all of Southwark’s public tennis courts from the start of November, residents were told recently.
Charges are coming in for the courts in Southwark Park, Tanner Street Park, Brunswick Park, Dulwich Park and Belair Park from November 1. For an adult, an hour on the courts will cost £7.80 for weekends and after 4pm on weekdays, and £5.60 for other times. Half an hour will cost £3.90 or £2.80.
Children under eighteen will still get to book half an hour free every day on any of these courts with friends or family if they apply for junior membership.
Southwark Council said the money would be used for maintenance of the courts and “tennis development”, although there were no further details available at the time of publication.
Cllr Damian O’Brien, a Liberal Democrat councillor for the London Bridge and West Bermondsey ward, which includes Tanner Street Park, said that he thought the new charges were “reasonable”.
“As a non-tennis player I don’t see why I should subsidise someone to do so,” he said. “There’s plenty of opportunities to exercise for free, you could go for a run around Southwark Park. I don’t think a small contribution is unreasonable.”
Cllr O’Brien pointed to a drainage problem at the Tanner Street Park courts, as well as the lack of floodlights, which will limit playing time further as the days get shorter. The surface of the courts are on a cavity, which makes installing floodlights more complicated and expensive. “If the money was not turned back into facilities I’d have a problem,” he added.
The News understands that some tennis players are worried that they will not be able to afford the new charges, and are concerned about the possible knock-on effect on their physical and mental health.
The council said that the new system will bring Southwark into line with other London boroughs that charge for their tennis courts. Charges at courts run by both Lambeth and Lewisham councils are more expensive than Southwark. An hour at Kennington Park in Lambeth costs £8.65. Lewisham charges either £5 or £10 for an hour on the courts at Ladywell Fields depending on the time of day.
Southwark Council said that bringing in charges would deter people coming from other boroughs to play on free courts.
The council’s other bookable courts at Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park by the Imperial War Museum and in Burgess Park already had charges. Honor Oak Park tennis courts use a ‘turn up and play’ system.
The news comes as the council told Southwark residents that the fireworks in Southwark Park were cancelled again this year, with the £100,000 cost not considered a good use of public money in a time of belt-tightening.
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