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New moves in tennis row

PUBLISHED: 02:00 13 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:51 03 March 2010

FRESH negotiations are to take place to solve the row over a tennis pavilion where a club has been evicted because it will not agree to a new rent deal.

FRESH negotiations are to take place to solve the row over a tennis pavilion where a club has been evicted because it will not agree to a new rent deal.

Woodbridge Tennis Club vacated its clubhouse before the locks were changed after its members refused to pay a hike in rent to use the facilities.

But the landlords, the town council, are still hopeful that a solution can be found – and that the players will once again be able to use the building on Kingston playing field.

Council clerk Chris Walker said the finance and staffing committee would discuss the situation on May 20. The meeting would be held in public and tennis club officials were expected to attend.

"We want to keep the negotiations going with the tennis club to see if a solution can be found," she said.

"The tennis club has written the council a letter and this will be discussed by the committee and hopefully some progress can be made."

At this stage, the town council is not looking at other possible uses for the building and would dearly love to see it used by the tennis players who use the courts right alongside the pavilion.

But there will have to be a compromise on the financial front if that is to happen – with both tenant and landlord currently refusing to meet each other's demands.

The tennis club is prepared to pay £2,000 rent, and up to £3,000 maintenance costs for the nine-year-old pavilion. The council is asking for £4,500 rent – the maximum amount put forward by a district valuer – plus additional costs.

The club believes that figure is an open market value, which is not appropriate for the building, as its usage is strictly limited. An independent chartered surveyor, commissioned by the club, gave a figure of £1,000-£1,200.

The club, which paid £3,500 rent last year, has been assured the £4,500 rent would not be increased for four years.

The eviction means the club's 307 members will have no shelter or toilet facilities for use during matches and training and nowhere to store equipment.

Club chairman Eileen Schlee said: "This is highway robbery. Either you give up and are diminished or you don't and you get shot. Either way you lose. The council talks about best value but what about best value for the community?"

The club, which has used the Kingston playing fields since 1924, will continue to play on the district council owned courts.

Relationships with the town council were soured in 2001 when councillors refused an application to build a "Kids Zone", with special tennis training facilities for children and disabled players.


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