'You cannot be serious' plea from tennis club

A TENNIS club may be forced to shut just months before £100,000 is due to be spent on transforming it into one of North Somerset's

A TENNIS club may be forced to shut just months before £100,000 is due to be spent on transforming it into one of North Somerset's leading sporting venues. The future of Weston Tennis Club, in Neva Road, is now in jeopardy because its floodlights have been branded a 'nuisance'.A local resident's complaints about light pollution has led North Somerset Council to suggest to the club's chairman, Trevor Carter, that he restrict floodlit play on the courts to just one hour per week, barely long enough for one set of tennis. The £100,000 investment, promised by the Lawn Tennis Association, will go towards four new all-weather courts, a specialist junior court and new floodlights but will not be ready before September. Plans for the changes have been sent to North Somerset Council and subject to approval work will begin on upgrading the club's facilities at the end of July.Mr Carter said: "The timing could not be worse as we are currently asking players to renew their membership but they are not doing so because of the uncertainty about the future of the club. "If we cannot get the support we need through members the club will have to close."The club was formed in the mid-1930s and has more than 130 members. It leases the site from Weston College. The college has been in discussions with the club about the possibility of forming a tennis academy, but these plans could also now be put on hold. Mr Carter added: "We have already spent almost £1,000 to try to reach a compromise by adjusting the angle of the lights but the council says they are still causing a 'nuisance'."The council indicated it would formally order the club to stop using its lights last week. A council spokesman said: "The club can appeal to the magistrates court which will decide whether the notice stands. While we are not trying to stop people enjoying their tennis, residents have a right to enjoy their homelife without suffering unacceptable levels of light pollution."The council's executive member for strategic planning and transport, John Crockford-Hawley, said: "This situation has come about due to a change in the law regarding light pollution. "The council is obliged to investigate if a member of the public makes a complaint, and the law has changed and must be adhered to, which is unfortunate in this case."I think we should be doing everything we can to support the club but the council is going to be wrong whatever it does on this one."John Penrose, MP for Weston, said: "I've been calling on the council to exercise a little bit of common sense and discretion. "By the same token, the club needs to keep its neighbours on side until the new facilities are hopefully in place later this year.""However, it really is exciting to think what might be achieved with this grant from the Lawn Tennis Association. "It would be a tremendous shame if that money is lost to sport in Weston because of bureaucratic heavy-handedness. "Childhood obesity is a growing problem. We need to encourage people to get active and stay active. That only happens when we provide good quality sporting facilities and opportunities in the community. The LTA grant promises to do just that.

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