Tennis coach behind successful Leamington club could lose her business after battle with the council
Claire Pomfret has run Victoria Tennis Club, based in the town’s Victoria Park, for the past nine years but has been told that her licence will be terminated ahead of a new tender process being carried out.
Speaking at the cabinet meeting of the council on Thursday (December 9), she urged members to honour her licence which was due to run to 2026.
She said: “When I started in 2012 there were zero members and I did not know whether this project would be a success.
“I have persevered on poor facilities for four years under the false expectation of much better years ahead, constantly being told that high participation rates would secure this future.
"We are at capacity on three all weather courts, had 4,000 visits in June and have a full-time coaching programme including wheelchair tennis.
"In summary we are willing to work with the council to endure the long-term future of these courts.
“It is unfair to terminate my licence in 2022 during such a difficult year due to the disruption of the Commonwealth Games.
"July 2022 will be my tenth anniversary and at the moment I will have no venue, no members and a very uncertain future.”
The changes have been proposed as part of revised management arrangements and delivery for council-owned tennis, athletics and football facilities.
Among the recommendations approved by cabinet was to start charging for use of the tennis courts in Christchurch Gardens and Abbey Fields and that a Lawn Tennis Association booking and gate access system be introduced at the four venues across the district - including Victoria Park.
A report presented to the meeting explained the changes had the aim of ‘reducing the costs to the council in running the facilities, providing an optimum financial return and also increasing resident participation’. It added that the facilities currently ran at a deficit.
Cllr Liam Bartlett (Con, Warwick Aylesford), the portfolio holder for culture, tourism and leisure, said: “This is obviously a discretionary service and is as much about growing users and the provision of tennis - improving the quality of the offering.
“We are operating at a deficit and there is an opportunity here to safeguard tennis for the future. We have an obligation here to create a sinking fund to look after the courts.
“A proper fit for purpose tender process allows us to benchmark where we are getting best value for money for our residents.”