'So much for grassroots tennis' - Price hike at Gosling Sports Park sparks ire
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In the wake of Emma Raducanu's stunning fairy-tale win at the US Open, tennis has had a lot of national attention with even Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking about the importance of the sport at grassroots level.
But one Welwyn Garden City resident has expressed their frustration at Gosling Sports Park after they changed how much they charge for use of tennis courts - which he says will 'put a quick end to any keen budding prodigies'.
Robert Crisp has been playing tennis at Gosling 'virtually everyday' for more than 10 years, paying £600 a year to do so.
Now he suggests he could be paying thousands as the new membership fee is £400 per year plus £10 an hour for every booking indoors.
He said: "For over 10 years I have paid £600 p.a. to enjoy one hour's indoor tennis at Gosling, virtually everyday of the year.
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"Playing with friends and teaching my children. Simple grassroots tennis.
"I'm 70 so it's important to play indoors."
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Gosling boasts 10 indoor hard courts used by amateurs, coaches and even professionals in the winter.
The new membership fee is £400 per year plus £10 an hour for every booking indoors. So Robert believes this could cost him £4,000 per year to enjoy the one hour a day he is used to (365x10 = £3,650 on top of the membership fee).
He continued: "Gosling used to be a sports park for the community. Since being taken over by Better that is no longer the case.
"This new pricing strategy should put a quick end to any keen budding prodigies, like Emma. So much for grassroots tennis."
A spokesperson for GLL addressed Robert's claim, they said: "These changes to pricing work out to £2.50 per person for an hour on an indoor doubles court and represent a discount to other tennis facilities in the county.
“The old court fees were something of an anomaly left over from when we took over the facility in 2016 and represented a significant subsidy in terms of the cost of provision.
“Since then, we have made major investments to the indoor tennis offer.
“Outdoor courts are offered at no charge within a player’s annual membership.
“Charging an amount that better reflects the cost of provision allows for further investment and facility maintenance – important given the high footfall at this popular facility."