Council looks to off-load courts

Meeting held over petition branded ‘a waste of time’

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PORTSMOUTH’S only remaining grass tennis courts could be off-loaded by the city council.

The popular courts on Eastern Parade, Southsea, are not facing the axe – but councillors admitted that until recently cuts were being considered.

City sports chief, Cllr Lee Hunt, said that a reduction in his department’s budget over the next three years will force a rethink of how the city’s sporting facilities are funded.

‘I have asked Southsea Tennis Club to look at taking over responsibility for the courts,’ he said, ‘much like Portsmouth Cricket Club have relieved the taxpayer of the burden of paying for their grounds.

‘We are looking for someone else to step in and look after the tennis courts in the long run, and that could be a business, charity or local residents’ group.’

Victor Childs, 65, of Horse Sands Close, Eastney, said after 39 years of playing at the courts it would be a tragedy if they were forced to close. ‘Local people care so much about these facilities I’m sure they would step in to run them,’ he said.

‘But their survival shouldn’t be dependant on that. Everyone should be able to enjoy them.’