Play to resume after deal on courts

The Oxford Times: Alan Davidson, Margaret Saxon and Vladimir Chorbadzhiev from Witney Tennis Club on the courts at West Witney. Picture: OX64004 Ric Mellis Buy this photo » Alan Davidson, Margaret Saxon and Vladimir Chorbadzhiev from Witney Tennis Club on the courts at West Witney. Picture: OX64004 Ric Mellis

TENNIS courts are finally set to be given a £23,000 revamp to bring them up to scratch.

The need to resurface the four tennis courts at West Witney Sports Ground was first raised six years ago.

Now Witney Town Council has agreed to do the work.

But the decision was made on the grounds that Witney Lawn Tennis pay its outstanding rent of £6,000.

The issue of the tennis courts has been ongoing since 2007, when the club first complained to the council about the state of them.

The council agreed to spend money on resurfacing work in March last year, but has yet to do so.

The club said it would not pay rent until the court was resurfaced – prompting councillors Harry Eaglestone and Roger Curry to accuse the club of “blackmail” at a council meeting last week.

It is hoped the work – which is expected to take about a month – will be completed before the club hosts a junior tennis tournament from April 7 to April 12. It is also to host an Oxfordshire tennis festival on June 22.

Witney mayor Peter Dorward said: “The tennis courts do belong to the people of Witney and to deny them tennis courts will deny people the chance to play.

“If we keep it in the state it is now it will get worse and the costs will only increase.”

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Cllr Ben Woodruff agreed. He said: “The courts need to be repaired.

“They are not safe and if we leave it any longer they will get worse.”

After the meeting, the chairman of Witney Tennis Club Chris Pyne, said he was happy with the news, but still wary of the council. He said: “We are 95 per cent across the finishing line but we have been in this position before.

“Until everything has been put down and resurfaced, I will be on tenterhooks.”

Treasurer Margaret Saxon agreed.

She said: “We have waited a long time for the council’s decision to release funds to resurface our courts and our chairman Chris Pyne has worked tirelessly to get this resolved.

“Of course we are delighted to have this decision but we feel that until we have something in writing we are not absolutely sure that this is going to happen.

“The courts will be in a poor state for this winter season’s league matches as the work cannot be carried out now until the spring, so we are hoping for reasonable weather conditions to get through our matches.”

The decision, with 13 voting in favour from the 14 present, with Cllr Eaglestone abstaining, will be reviewed at the next leisure and recreation meeting on January 13.

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