FOR months councillors and residents complained about the state of the tennis courts in Trumble Gardens.
While neighbouring Bromley’s investment in tennis spawned star Emma Raducanu, Croydon’s tennis players were negotiating this Health and Safety nightmare (pictured).
Bensham Manor ward councillors raised serious concerns about the condition of Trumble Gardens but repeated requests calling for action about the state of the mangled perimeter fence surrounding the tennis courts were ignored.
It had become so bad that local councillors Jamie Audsley, Alison Butler and Humayun Kabir questioned whether the historic green space was even ‘fit for use’ by residents.
Finally, last month the council’s leisure provider Better replaced the worst affected of the mesh fencing but the courts are still in a poor condition which is surprising given that The Chronicle understands the council employed a consultant to work on a project to get investment to improve the borough’s public tennis offering.
Recently the LTA announced it had invested £8.5million into Local Authorities to help improve 40 percent of courts that were in a “poor or unplayable condition.”
However, none of that money seems to have come to Croydon even though in 2017 the council announced it was developing a plan for improving tennis court facilities.
The Croydon Council Sports and Physical Activity Facilities strategy 2018-23 presented by the then cabinet lead for culture, parks and open spaces Cllr Oliver Lewis set out a vision to make Croydon a place where everyone ‘lives a healthy lifestyle’.
It outlines plans to apply for external funding to support improvements to Grangewood Park and Trumble Gardens courts, with the latter potentially becoming a multi sports ‘system’.
It also says it will work with the LTA to develop at least one, but potentially two, community hub facilities that would include feasibility work on either
a canopy or dome cover and work along with increasing the number of floodlit courts.
Xander Beck who runs a consultancy firm reveals on his web site that he is “working with the London Borough of Croydon and managing a number of Croydon projects including assessing a potential partnership with the LTA as a number of Croydon’s 17 park based tennis courts were in need of urgent investment.” According to the council’s web site Mr Beck has also been an employee of the council working as regeneration office on the council’s vision for parks which similarly didn’t come to anything
In 2017 Cllr Alison Butler said that it was hoped that ‘we can diversify the sporting offer at Trumble Gardens to something that is more appropriate to local needs.’
Cllr Karen Jewitt, Thornton Heath ward councillor also confirmed at the time that she had met with officers to discuss Grangewood and the tennis courts, and they were ‘awaiting confirmation of the funding’.
In 2018, Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) took over the running of the council’s leisure centres including sports facilities in parks under its ‘Better’ brand and according to cabinet papers the contract included the supporting and managing of a comprehensive tennis programme in partnership with the Lawn Tennis Association.
The report also states over the life of the contract £3million would be invested in refurbishments to leisure facilities, outdoor hardcourt facilities and open space activity.