NO DECISION has been made on whether charges will be introduced on tennis courts that have historically been free to use when a £220,000 revamp is completed. 

The courts in Old Cwmbran have been upgraded with funding from governing body the Lawn Tennis Association and cash Torfaen Borough Council has got from section 106 legal agreements – when developers make a contribution towards community facilities as part of their planning permission. 

Fears a charge could be introduced were highlighted by Cwmbran St Dials councillor Elizabeth Haynes, whose ward includes the courts. 

The independent councillor said maintenance costs should reduce as the courts are new and asked Cllr Mandy Owen, the council’s cabinet member for the environment, if she would commit the Labour-controlled council to ensuring the courts and the multi-use games area remain free to access. 

Cllr Haynes said: “There was some consultation with residents about the proposals, but there has not been any mention of a pay-per-play fee, that has recently been circulating in the community.  

“These courts are within close proximity to areas of deprivation. They have always been free to use and have always been maintained by Torfaen council.” 

Cllr Owen, who represents the town’s Greenmeadow ward, said she couldn’t make that promise, but said she shared the concerns raised by Cllr Haynes and would meet with her, and fellow St Dials councillor Catherine Bonera, when officers had considered all possible options. 

The cabinet member said it is a condition of the LTA funding the courts are maintained to a “high quality” so the council needs to ensure their financial sustainability. 

“Due to the existing financial pressures we are experiencing it is incumbent on the council to explore all options to meet the upkeep of the courts and that includes whether there should be a pay charge but no decision has been made on introducing charges and no announcement made.” 

In August last year it was confirmed the LTA would provide £220,000 towards the revamp, which is now expected to be completed by this spring, with the council putting £22,400 from the Section 106 agreement towards it while a further £104,000, from Sport Wales, is being used to revamp a further two courts that can also be used for basketball. 

At the time the council said it was too soon to say if a charge would be introduced.  

Where the fund has been used elsewhere in Wales it has seen payment for playing on courts introduced in some parks but has been described as a “low cost pay to play policy” while there are also free tennis initiatives in place.