Tennis club at Victoria Park in Leamington closes as council puts management of courts out to tender

Claire Pomfret had ran VP Tennis at the park since 2012 and had fought hard to keep the club operating there

Members of VP Tennis had been at odds with Warwick District Council over the use and condition of the tennis courts, in Victoria Park. Photo by Mike Baker- MDB.
Members of VP Tennis had been at odds with Warwick District Council over the use and condition of the tennis courts, in Victoria Park. Photo by Mike Baker- MDB.

VP Tennis at Victoria Park in Leamington has closed, its founder has announced.

Claire Pomfret had ran VP Tennis at the park since 2012 and had fought hard to keep the club operating there after Warwick District Council announced it is putting the management of courts out to tender.

Recently, Claire had launched a petition against the tender process and over the years she had also fought for resurfacing of the courts and improved facilities.

The tennis courts at Victoria Park in Leamington.

She said: “Our compromise with WDC in 2020 was for three new courts instead of ten, on the basis we would have ten new courts and automated floodlights straight after the [Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games].

"This would be for the remainder of my licence until June 2026.

"Unfortunately WDC then announced a surprise procurement process, even after we received an excellent appraisal with over 50 supportive emails from families who are involved with the club.

"Our subsequent petition questioning this flawed process received over 500 signatures.

The tennis courts at Victoria Park in Leamington.

“Unfortunately we still don't have dates for this tender or resurface and WDC is not offering any compensation for only having three instead of ten new courts.

"It also refused to let me provide 30 per cent of coaching over the winter until the resurface happens, even though it is only delivering 30 per cent currently.

“It should never have been a choice between this local tennis club or [the courts being the site for] the media centre for the games.

“There was plenty of room in Victoria Park for both and the courts should have been resurfaced as initially promised in 2018.

"This club would have gone from strength to strength.

"Instead many timelines have been missed and the tender has been pushed back already by six months and the resurface by five years.

"A tennis club cannot run with these constantly moving goal posts and lack of consideration.

"What a shame for the local community of tennis players.”

Read More
Leamington burger company is in the running to be named 'best takeaway in Britai...

WDC is making temporary changes to the booking arrangements for the tennis courts at Victoria Park.

While preparations are made for the installation of a new secure access gate and floodlighting, players wishing to use the facilities during daylight hours can do so for free by making a booking via the clubspark.lta.org.uk website.

WDC’s portfolio holder for leisure and environment Councillor Judith Falp said: “WDC is pleased to have secured funding from the Lawn Tennis Association allowing us to make a range of improvements to the Victoria Park courts.

"These will include an automatic gate with pin code access and floodlights similar to those being used at Christchurch Gardens [in Leamington], which we expect to be in place during December.

"Investment in the facilities is anticipated to continue in 2023 to resurface the remaining courts and convert the flood lights to more energy efficient LEDs.”

WDC will start the tender process - to appoint one or more tennis operators to run a community-based tennis programme at the tennis courts at Victoria Park, Christchurch Gardens and St Nicholas Park in Warwick - in December.

Cllr Falp thanked VP Tennis “for all they have done over the past ten years to promote and provide access to tennis in the community.

She said: ““The Council has accepted VP Tennis’ decision to terminate their contract early and I would like to extend our gratitude for all they have done over the past ten years to promote and provide access to the game of tennis in the local community.

"Our overwhelming priority now is to focus on providing future tennis provision for the public and ensuring the long-term upkeep and sustainability of these discretionary facilities.”