Disappointed at charge to use Eastbourne tennis courts

From: John LambertLindfield Road, Eastbourne

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 12:39 pm

On my daily walk around Hampden Park during the summer lockdown I noticed how busy the public tennis courts were (when the rules permitted).

From 8am until 8pm they were fully populated by people of all ages enjoying a recreational game of tennis.

My own children and grandchildren regularly used the facility which was freely accessible.

Public tennis courts in Eastbourne reopen on March 29 as the UK's lockdown eases. Hampden Park SUS-210329-164528001

As an ex-PE teacher, it was particularly pleasing to see so many young boys and girls participating in sport.

With so many people being prevented from playing sport for the last few months and now allowed to participate in outdoor games, I expected these courts to be full again this week.

It was, therefore, with some consternation that instead I noticed that the courts were padlocked up and completely empty.

A sign on the fence now directs the public to a website where you can book a court for £7 an hour.

As I understand it, this is also going to be the arrangement at other public courts in Eastbourne.

Most young people and the less privileged will simply not use the courts as they either won’t be able to go through this process or may not be able to afford it.

The council has devolved responsibility for these courts and allowed this situation to arise.

It is disappointing to see that a council-owned sports facility has been effectively ‘privatised’.

There are already two fee-paying privately run tennis clubs in Hampden Park.

Personally, I want my council to spend tax-payers money on providing recreational facilities that are accessible for everyone, especially the young and the underprivileged who have been disproportionately affected by Covid.