Tennis fans hit out after Brent Council introduce charges for use of ‘free’ courts

Users of Chelmsford Square tennis courts in Kensal Rise will have to pay �6-per-hour

Shocked tennis fans have hit out at the council after it imposed charges on a previously free court as Olympic fever gripped the country.

Users of Chelmsford Square tennis courts in Kensal Rise said that they feared use of the courts would now drop off and attacked the council for ignoring the legacy of the Olympic Games to ‘inspire a generation’.

According to players, the courts have been free to use for the past 30 years but this changed when a warden was spotted putting up a sign on the day of the London Olympics closing ceremony informing people that they would now be charged �6-per hour.

Maurice O’Neill, who has used the courts for the past few years, said: “There was no kind of consultation, no meeting – nothing whatsoever to tell people that these charges were coming in.

“It bugs you can go for 30 years and then they just put up a notice and expect everything to be fine. They are not exactly adhering to the Olympic spirit either by coming in as we are all celebrating the best games ever.”

The council said that a mobile park warden would collect fees from court users as they are playing but Mr O’Neill fears the system will not work and could spiral in cost in the coming years.

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He said: “It is an isolated court. It will take a while for people to come up and collect the money and even in the time since they introduced it, they are not regularly collecting cash. It is a system that will not work.”

A council spokesman said that charging had been a policy since 2005 but money was not collected from Chelmsford Square due to the bad state of the courts.

He said: “Over the past three years, the council has invested approximately �490,000 in improving tennis courts, all are now of a good standard so fees are being collected for all courts.

“The charge for adult use has not increased since 2007 – at �6 it is the same as �1:50p per person for doubles, so is good value. Details are on the council website.

“The mobile park wardens collect fees as part of their day to day work visiting parks, so this is at no extra cost.”