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Parks Tennis Membership FAQ's, Updated on 27/04/2021

Introduction

8/12/2020 : Since 2019 Elmbridge Borough Council has been able to offer free memberships.  Unfortunately, due to ongoing pressures on Council finances as well as the impact of the Covid19 pandemic, the Council is no longer able  to provide free use of tennis courts to all residents.

In order to keep courts in a good condition and to maintain the gate technology and online booking system that enable members to play at the time and location of their choice, the Council will be introducing fees for court hire. These fees have been set at a minimal level and any residents in receipt of low-income benefits will not be charged to use the courts. 

To view the report which was agreed by the Full Council please visit: http://mygov.elmbridge.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=146&MId=3316 

 


Update - 2/3/2021

  • 1st April 2021 the new Play Tennis Pass membership opens (£36 household annual fee)
  • 1st April 2021 pay and play will go live (£5 per hour, per court)
  • 8th April 2021 the current Parks Tennis Psss will close, you will not be able to book or access the courts with this pass.

To book a court on the 8th April 2021 onwards please sign up to the Play Tennis Pass (live on 1st April) or book using pay & play. Your Park Tennis Pass will not allow you to book or access the Park Tennis courts from the 8th April onwards.

Tennis coaches, friends or family members wishing to teach/coach tennis or provide tennis advice/instruction (for free or charging a fee) will need to apply for and hold an in-date Coaching Package, not a Park / Play Tennis Pass or pay & play.

To use the courts for any other reasons outside of general tennis play or tennis coaching, you can apply in advance of the activity for a General Hire Pass at specific Park Tennis sites.  

 

Update - 27/4/2021

If you receive low-income benefits please send us an email asking how to sign up for the Play Tennis Pass: [email protected] 

 

1) Why will residents have to pay to access tennis courts from 1st April 2021?

The Council has an obligation to maintain tennis courts at high standards for players to enjoy the game safely. The cost to maintain courts is increasing and tennis courts need regular upgrades to meet satisfactory safety standards.

To improve the players’ experience, we introduced electronic gates and an online booking system in 2017 which have to be maintained and therefore incur costs. The online booking system enables player to choose where and when they want to play. The gate technology is a deterrent to vandalism and limit the access to only those who have booked to play. 

Due to the impact of the Covid19 pandemic on council finances, we are no longer in the position to subsidise the use of tennis courts. We are also moving towards additional cuts in local government grants in the next few years.

Tennis court maintenance costs need to be managed carefully to ensure the facilities are sustainable for the future. The income from the annual memberships and pay & play system will contribute towards the maintenance, although will not fully cover all costs. 

 

2) Does everyone under the court booking need to pay to use the courts from1st April2020?

No, only one player needs to pay for the court through the annual membership or pay & play option from 1st April 2020. The Play Tennis Pass is not for the receipt or delivery of tennis coaching or non-tennis play activities. 

 

3) Charging a fee seems to go against the idea of making tennis accessible for everyone. What are your views on this?

The gate access system is operated in partnership with the LTA whose objectives are to grow and sustain the sport. We want to grow tennis in Elmbridge and get as many people to play as possible. We are keen to develop a strong tennis community in Elmbridge where everyone; children, families and people of all ages can enjoy the game. However, in the long term, we need to bear in mind that tennis courts require investment to keep them in safe playable conditions. So, we need to find the balance between maintaining great facilities for the public to use and ensuring they are sustainable for the future. We will be providing free membership passes to those on low income, and targeted groups to increase access to the courts.

 

4) How can you make tennis grow while charging for it?

We have appointed 3 LTA accredited tennis coaches to develop tailored tennis courses for the community, as well as private coaching lessons. We also employ a dedicated part-time Tennis Development Officer whose role is to expand tennis opportunities in the borough and make sure the Parks Tennis Scheme is managed professionally in partnership with the LTA.

With the Covid19 pandemic, a limited number of community tennis courses took place in 2020 and others have had to be postponed. However, our programme will be back up and running from April 2021.

Low-cost courses will be available throughout summer and the rest of the year. They will include LTA Youth tennis , cardio tennis, tennis express, tennis skills, tennis for over 50s, inclusive tennis and more.

We will continue to work in partnership with the LTA to make sure there will be regular opportunities to have a go at tennis for free at various sites and events across the Borough.

 

5) Will there be any Free Tennis opportunities?

Yes, we will be providing free membership passes to those on low income, and targeted groups to increase access to the courts.

We will continue to work in partnership with the LTA to make sure there will be regular opportunities to have a go at tennis for free at various sites and events across the Borough.

The new tennis providers will be offering free weekly sessions during term time with their coaching teams, details will be posted on the relevant venue pages.

 

6) How can you make sure the Parks Tennis Scheme is inclusive and working for everybody?

We currently have over 9,000 members registered with the Parks Tennis Scheme. They will be able to choose whether to  upgrade to an annual Parks Tennis membership pass or use the Pay and Play option in 2021. We will be including a free annual membership pass available for people on low-income so they can access the tennis courts to play (please see question 15).

In 2020, approximately 47,297 court hours have been booked across all 12 venues which includes recreational play and coaching activity. We have had 41 members taking part in our community tennis coaching programme in 2020- and 91-members taking part in 2019

The Parks tennis booking system is accessible and easy to use. Once you have registered, you and members of your family can book a court at a moment’s notice (7 days advanced booking). You can even book just before walking onto the court. The only thing you require is to have your mobile phone with you.

 

7) Many residents will think it is yet another expense for the household. What would you say to them?

£36 per year for a household of up to 5 people represents extremely good value for money; given the fact that they can have access to 12 tennis parks sites for up to 2 hours a day for the whole year. This equates to 14p per person per week. £5 per hour is a standard fee charged in many locations across the UK. The scheme will also be free for those who are in receipt of benefits.

We are investigating the option of a monthly direct debit payment, following questions from Park Tennis members.

 

8) Is the system being monitored properly to make sure players get value for money and is fair for everybody? What if people make multiple bookings and do not turn up to play?

The system can record court usage and link it to the person who has booked. If we find that people who have multiple bookings do not use the courts, we will get in touch with them to discuss the issue and we may also suspend their membership.

 

9) With the media regularly reporting on obesity in children and adults, do you think charging for tennis is appropriate?

In Elmbridge, we are committed to encouraging people to be more active. To that effect, we have put in place a strategy to be implemented over 5 years, inviting people to get involved in sports and regular exercise. We anticipate tennis to play a part in it, this is why we are working with LTA accredited coaches to deliver affordable sessions to get people of all ages involved in tennis. We will also be able to work with target groups across the Borough and issue free passes where we feel this is appropriate.

 

10) Will I still be able to access Parks coaching without a membership?

Yes, you will still be able to access Parks coaching with one of our authorised providers without a Parks membership, however if you wish to play outside of lessons you will need an annual membership or use the pay & play option. Authorised providers are stated on the relevant venue pages and on the main Tennis in Elmbridge coaching page. 

 

11) What does this mean for court maintenance?

We are liaising with the Green Spaces team and the gate company to deal with any issues as they come up and to organise a regular schedule of checks and base maintenance, so the courts are playable year-round.

Income raised through annual membership and pay & play will help aid the Council invest in future capital court works, for example, court painting, re-surfacing and fencing.

 

12) What are the Lawn Tennis Association’s (LTA) views on the report to re-introduce fees?

The LTA are supporting the proposed Elmbridge Parks Tennis Scheme, which offers a sustainable operational model that safeguards the long-term future of parks tennis across Elmbridge. LTA insight shows that 33% of people that play tennis at least once a year in the UK, do so in a park environment, so it is vital that park tennis facilities are sustainable and safeguarded to serve this demand.

It is also important the Elmbridge Parks Scheme is inclusive and accessible to support the LTA’s strategy of ‘Tennis Opened Up’. A mixed operational model that consists of recreational pay & play, targeted free access, affordable family passes and community coaching would achieve that operational balance between sustainability, accessibility and inclusivity.

   

13) How will I be able to register for the new Elmbridge Parks Tennis Scheme?

You will be able to register for the new annual membership through the Tennis in Elmbridge membership page from April 2021 : https://clubspark.lta.org.uk/TennisInElmbridge/Membership/Join

Reminders to sign up for the new annual membership will be emailed out in March 2021 and posted on the ClubSpark pages. New membership starts on 1st April 2021.

Once you have registered for the annual pass in April 2021, please log into ClubSpark to open the booking sheets as a paid for member. To use the pay & play option from April 2021, please go to the venue booking page, click on a time slot and follow the instructions to complete your booking.

 

14) When will my Parks Tennis Pass stop being active for court bookings?

The Parks Tennis Pass will be hidden from the membership page on the 1st April 2021 and the new Play Tennis Pass will open for purchase. The Parks Tennis Pass court booking ability will close on the evening of the 7th April 2021.

 

15) How do people on low-income benefits sign up 

Elmbridge Borough Council will email sign up details to the relevant people through the Council database. If you recieve this email, please do not share it with anyone else as it will result in the termination of yours and theirs passes. All of the Parks terms are also applicable.

Unfortunately there has been a delay in sending out the letters due to changes in staff. However, please email [email protected] and we will send you the details on how to sign up (prove of receipt of low-income benefits is required).

 

16) My exsiting Parks Tennis Pass does not expire until later in the year, do I need to sign up for the new pass in April?

Yes, you will need to sign up for the new Play Tennis Pass from the 1st April 2021 April as per the full Council decision.  We have extended booking and court access with the current Parks Tennis Pass to the 7th April 2021 to aid in the switch over. From the 8th April 2021 you will only be able to access the booking sheets & the courts with the new Play Tennis Pass or through pay & play.

 

Further Information

This FAQ page will be updated accordingly with any further information.

If you have any further questions which have not been covered, please contact Parks Tennis: [email protected] so we can update this page accordingly.