Price rise for tennis defended by operator

PUBLISHED: 09:41 24 March 2015

Archant

New charges at Withycombe Tennis Centre could lead to some members paying up to 50 per cent more in monthly fees.

From April, tennis players with an ‘unlimited’ membership will have pay for a previously ‘inclusive’ weekly coaching course at the LED-run centre, on Withycombe Village Road.

Full members currently pay just over £30 a month, which gives them access to all 16 LED facilities.

This allows them to enjoy activities, including tennis and group tennis lessons four times a month, without paying a single extra penny.

But that’s all about to change; from next month members will have to pay £4.40 a week for each lesson.

Over a month, and added to their monthly subs, this increases a full member’s costs by 50 per cent.

Centre managers say that new charges are necessary to allow more people access to the courses.

Currently, it is almost impossible for new players to join the courses because they are full.

Non-members can sit on the awaiting list for years before there is a space.

Bob Stewart said he had been told the changes were because of ‘no shows’ by members on the coaching courses.

He said: “This is a 50 per cent increase in the cost to play two hours’ tennis per week including a group lesson.

“Such a big hike limits access to those with families or on lower incomes.

“For people on fixed incomes, like pensioners, it is particularly discriminatory.

“Claims that this will free up courts is absurd.

“Many courts are used for non-tennis activities that could be run at other local LED sites.

“LED has the power to fine members who fail to turn up, but instead they penalise those who do attend.”

Bill Prendergast said: “Rather than increase rates, why not manage the classes better?

“More coaching, more opportunities to progress through the coaching ranks, and, yes, remove persistent non-attenders.”

He said that tennis courts had ‘never been so hard to book’ since five-a-side football moved from the leisure centre.

He added: “I will not be extending my coaching lessons, so that’s one space LED can have!”

A spokesman for LED said: “One of the principal customer complaints has been the lack of availability on the specialist indoor coaching courses.

“One of the main reasons for this is the popularity of the centre, not only for the facilities provided there, but also for the social interaction it allows.

“There was a need for some changes to be made in order to make the tennis more accessible to more of its members.

“Charging those players who wanted to attend specialist coaching was considered the fairest solution.”


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