South West Wales

£200k plan to save Swansea Tennis Centre

Campaigners hoping to save Swansea Tennis Centre
Image caption The council-run centre serves the whole of west Wales

A business plan which it is hoped will save Swansea's tennis centre has been submitted to the council.

The local authority announced its intention to shut the centre as part of a cost-cutting exercise to tackle a £17m budget shortfall.

A new company formed by members has presented its plan that includes a £200,000 cash plus loans offer from the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).

Swansea council said it would now consider the viability of the bid.

It said closing the centre, which has eight indoor and four outdoor courts in Landore, would save £120,000 a year.

Collette Richards, chairwoman of TennisSwansea365, said: "We will never have enough money and we have seen usage of the centre drop by a quarter since the news of the closure was announced.

"There is the potential for the LTA to put in £200,000 which is a huge amount of money.

"Some of that will be spent of refurbishing the four outside courts to make them all-weather, to start an outreach programme to get more schoolchildren to the centre and on marketing the tennis centre.

"But we would have to repay a portion of the money as loan, some £40,000."

Mrs Richards said the LTA wanted Swansea council to guarantee the loan portion and pay back the money if TennisSwansea365 failed to make a success of it.

"I don't want to to say anything against the council," she added.

"They have intimated a 15-year lease would be available at a peppercorn rent and they are keen to see a business plan, but they don't want the plan to cost them anything.

"The problem is that people think it's closed already and the LTA could still walk away. We cannot afford to miss the start of the indoor tennis season which starts in October."

'Massive blow'

Peter Drew, chief executive of Tennis Wales, a subsidiary of the Lawn Tennis Association, said: "We and the LTA are doing everything possible to keep it open because it is such an important facility for participation in the area but also from a performance point of view.

"It acts like a regional academy for south west Wales, and keeping it going is an absolute top priority."

Mr Drew said the money offered by the LTA was not a bail-out but a "significant support package".

"It would be a massive blow to tennis in Wales to lose it."

A council spokesman said: "We've now received a formal business plan from the tennis centre users and will consider its viability so long as there's no cost to the council.

"Full council decided in February to withdraw funding to help plug a funding gap of £17m and to prioritise vital front-line services.

"The centre is being kept open until we've considered the viability of the business plan.

"Staff at the tennis centre and users will be kept informed."

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