Park group's verbal volley over tennis courts in Sheffield

Friends of Hollinsend Park treasurer Keith Harrison and the group's secretary Wendy Robertson beside the dilapidated courts (pic: Marie Caley)
Friends of Hollinsend Park treasurer Keith Harrison and the group's secretary Wendy Robertson beside the dilapidated courts (pic: Marie Caley)
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Park users have launched a verbal volley at Sheffield Council over their fight to restore long-dilapidated tennis courts.

The council has teamed up with the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to install or repair courts 24 courts across the city over the last three years, at a cost of £1.5 million.

The friends group says it could raise the money for new courts if it had the council's support (pic: Marie Caley)

The friends group says it could raise the money for new courts if it had the council's support (pic: Marie Caley)

But the Friends of Hollinsend Park, in Gleadless, say they have spent the last five years trying to get old courts there back in action with little support from the local authority.

They claim they could have raised the money themselves but were told cutbacks meant even if they did so the council could not provide the project manager who is needed before work can begin.

Wendy Robertson, the group's secretary, was miffed to see the council and LTA lauding their partnership to boost tennis in the city given her experience.

"We feel we have not been treated fairly. It was quite annoying to read about all the investment elsewhere because we believe we could have got the money quite easily from other sources but were told the council could not supply a project manager," she said.

"If we get the money but then can't get a project manager we might have to hand the money back. It's a bit of a catch 22 situation."

Ms Robertson said the park used to have six tennis courts, four of which had been converted into a games area and arts space, but the group was keen to restore the remaining two.

However, she said members recently backed plans for the 'eyesore' tarmac to be grassed over, which has yet to happen, because they had given up hope of ever getting those courts restored.

The LTA says new facilities have fuelled a 54 per cent rise in the number of people playing tennis in Sheffield since 2015, and the city can now bid for a slice of £250m from the sport's governing body for further improvements.

Sheffield Council says more money has been spent on parks tennis in Sheffield than in any other UK city.

Councillor Mary Lea, cabinet member for leisure, said: "We're seeking to improve as many tennis courts as possible in Sheffield's parks.

"So far, it has not been possible to fund improvements at the courts in Hollinsend Park, but if funding was available in the future, this could be a possible site for investment."