Council provokes local wrath by closing Wimbledon tennis courts

Local outrage as Merton Council closes courts for repairs right at the start of the season

Wimbledon’s tennis courts have been padlocked — just in time for the summer. Merton Council has closed courts at Wimbledon Park, which is a stone’s throw from the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), for what a park assistant says could be the rest of the tennis season. He said: “They’re closed because they’ve got holes in them. No one knows when they will open again.” The council recently put playing prices up to £5.70 an hour and local residents are alarmed the council is offering so little for their fees — and their council tax. Craig Ray, a Wimbledon-based mortgage adviser, said: “It’s outrageous. I pay £1,700 a year council tax and I don’t know what for. I play at the courts regularly and they have been getting worse and worse recently. There’s graffiti everywhere and now this. It’s no wonder the English never win at Wimbledon if this is what happens.” The AELTC paid for 10 artificial grass tennis courts in Wimbledon Park to be resurfaced last spring. The agreement gives the AELTC priority on the use of the courts during the June-July championships and for two events in August. Leader of the council, Councillor Andrew Judge said: “The resurfacing of the courts in Wimbledon Park will bring Merton’s courts up to a standard expected of the home of the Wimbledon Championships.” AELTC chief executive Chris Gorringe said: “These public courts will be some of the best in the country and we are delighted they will soon be back in full use for the benefit of the local community.” Merton facilities and technical manager Chris Mountford said: “Four of our courts are locked at the moment as the surface needs replacing. We are obtaining estimates for repairs at present and hope to have them back in working order within two months

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