Bethan Evans, Reporter
Monday, July 22, 2013
CAR parking funds could pay for new tennis facilities in Weston as hundreds sign a petition to save the Grove Park courts from being demolished.
North Somerset Council plans to tear them down to extend the neighbouring car park.
At Tuesday’s full council meeting, Councillor Robert Payne handed over a petition to executive members.
He said: “The courts are still used and this is the last publicly owned sporting facility in the town centre.
“It’s not surprising that people have become quite angry about this decision (to demolish) and many comments in the signed petition say the council fails to acknowledge the importance of tennis following the win by British player Andy Murray.”
Cllr Payne announced 236 people had signed the petition.
After the meeting deputy leader Elfan Ap Rees revealed the council is now discussing new tennis court provision in the town, which can be professionally supported, and will include teaching young people the skills of the sport.
He said: “This would probably be more central to the population and where it is more accessible to the majority.
“Some funding for this will come from our car parking income. Secondly, extending the car park will meet anticipated growth in demand as we introduce new signs to highlight the spaces available and meet requests to restrict parking in the adjacent Lower Church Road.”
The authority already owns the land, but it is still subject to a 124-year-old covenant, agreed when the council bought the site from nearby St John’s Church more than 120 years ago.
Ward councillors and church leaders have told the Mercury they are opposed to the move but council chiefs have insisted the extra car parking will relieve the pressures of on-street parking in the town.
Cllr Ap Rees also said increasing car park provision will benefit Grove Park by removing the ‘poor’ fencing and replacing it with landscaping and creating better access.
He also hopes this will encourage audiences attending the town’s Playhouse Theatre to use off-street parking instead.