Portchester tennis courts labelled ‘anti-social behaviour magnets’ face the axe

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MORE than £80,000 could be spent on removing tennis courts at a community centre which people living nearby say have become a haven for anti-social behaviour.

Fareham Borough Council’s ruling executive is being asked to consider the plans for the three tennis courts and one basketball court at Portchester Community Centre on Westlands Grove in Portchester.

A new £2m community centre is being built next to the existing building, which will be demolished once the work is complete.

The contractor for the new community centre has provided a quote of £71,400 plus fees of a further £10,000 to remove the courts and return them to public open space.

However, Portchester Tennis Club is unhappy with the courts’ removal – unless new courts are provided by the council in their place.

Jeff Sparshott, the club’s chairman, will be making a deputation to the executive. He said: ‘There’s not a lot of anti-social behaviour, and if the courts and the fence had been properly maintained we might not be in this situation.

‘The first we knew about this was at a meeting in March. I spoke to one of the council officers afterwards and told them I was staggered that no-one had been in touch with us.

‘We are a small group, but the courts are in regular use. And not just by us, but by the public and also Wykeham House School in the summer term.

‘There was supposed to be consultation about this, but all I have had is a five-line email followed by an informal meeting at the courts with the council’s leisure developments officer.’

Nearby Portchester Community School has recently secured funding for extra sports facilities, including two new flood-lit tennis courts, which will be available for community use.

But Mr Sparshott added: ‘I’ve not been involved in any discussions about that. In theory that’s wonderful, but arrangements have not been made.’

According to the report going before the executive, no-one living in Clive Grove, which backs on to the courts, has objected to the plan.

And people living in five of the homes have indicated strong support for the courts’ removal due to the amount of nuisance and disruption they consider to be coming from their use.

The local police safer neighbourhoods team is also in favour of the proposals as it considers the courts to be ‘a magnet for anti-social behaviour,’ according to the report.

The courts are managed by the Portchester Community Association, which runs the community centre, and took £387 in hire charges for them in 2011.

The new facility remains on course for an October opening.

The matter will be considered on Monday.