Sports clubs to take over the running of north London parks' games areas

Local sports clubs are to take over running Finsbury Park track and tennis courts in north London in what is being called a "groundbreaking agreement that sees the community at the heart of improved sports provision".

Haringey Council formally agreed on 17 April to lease the facilities to the Finsbury Park Sports Partnership, a new umbrella group made up of local sports clubs. But the partnership has to meet specified milestones within three years.

Plans include new floodlighting to extend the evening opening hours of the tennis courts, the refurbishment of the running track, and building loos and a pavilion at the tennis courts. The milestones that must be achieved to be granted the 25 year full leases are in four areas.

The partnership must obtain charitable status for all provision; it must procure a tennis operator that can secure £280,000 to fund improvements; it must attract £500,000 external funding for the track and a nearby gym; and it must secure planning permission for improvements.

Councillor Richard Watson said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for community sports groups to provide facilities and improvements to the provision in the park. The council will support them through the first phase and look forward to a new era of sports provision in our borough, with communities and voluntary organisations in the driving seat.

"Residents have told us they want to be able to book courts rather than simply turn up on spec hoping one is available, they also want to be able to have tennis lessons and tournaments and access to toilet and changing facilities. This leasing arrangement should make all of these things possible without further burden on the taxpayer."

Finsbury Park Sports Partnership chairman Jerry Odlin said: "This is fantastic news. Everyone involved in the Partnership has worked hard with the council to make this possible and ensure improved sports provision in Finsbury Park."

Haringey Council said during consultation last year 95 per cent of respondents backed the proposals with 78 per cent supporting extending opening hours to 10pm either every night or week nights.

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