The governing body of British tennis has stepped in to provide funding to prevent the permanent closure of Wirral Tennis and Sports Centre.
The governing body of British tennis has stepped in to save a Wirral tennis centre where women’s US Open champion Emma Raducanu once competed.
The Lawn Tennis Association will provide funding for the survival and “long term sustainable future” of Wirral Tennis and Sports Centre (WTSC) and other tennis facilities in the borough.
It had been expected last week that Wirral Council would move to sign off on proposals to permanently close the WTSC in Bidston in a bid to save the authority much needed cash.
However, the council’s tennis provision will remain after the LTA, who wrote to the local authority in February asking it to pause any decision on the future of the centre, agreed to underwrite funding for the service
LTA Youth Ambassador and British tennis talisman Raducanu moved the youth stages programme at the WTSC centre.
The LTA will now work with Wirral Council to appoint an operator to exclusively manage the six indoor courts and three outdoor courts.
The governing body devised a package that will both deliver the required level of saving at the site together with a wider package of investment funding on Wirral both at WTSC and in outdoor courts across the borough.
What’s been said
Oxton Liberal Democrat Cllr Alan Brame said he was “delighted” the courts would remain open as there had been “clear demand” for the provision to be retained.
In a statement, an LTA spokesperson said: “We’re very pleased that the council accepted our plans to reopen Wirral Tennis Centre, and ensure it had a long term sustainable future.
“This decision will safeguard vital indoor tennis facilities and we are now working hard on plans to re-open the centre in September.”
Wirral Council budget issues
The move to close sites is part of Wirral Council’s savings programme of £20m to plug its financial gaps.
Golf courses, libraries and a leisure centre across the borough were given a stay of execution from permanent closure last week.
The local authority’s tourism, communities, culture and leisure committee moved ahead with proposals to progress a number of sites toward the next stage of community asset transfers in a bid to keep them open.
Among the locations spared from permanent shut down were Brackenwood and Hoylake golf courses, with golf’s leading body, the Royal and Ancient (R&A) stepping in to call for Hoylake to be saved.
It was said by the R&A that the Hoylake course “is a key part of The Open Golf Championship infrastructure and without it they cannot stage this global event. In investment terms the Open is worth approximately £100m to the Wirral and Liverpool City Region economy.”
Reports will be drawn up on the progress of the next stage of the asset transfer process to report back to the committee in October.