Council plea to extend tennis lease on crumbling Cooper Park courts

Councillors to discuss a longer lease on Cooper Park Tennis Courts.
Councillors to discuss a longer lease on Cooper Park Tennis Courts.

TENNIS PLAYERS IN Elgin are pinning their hopes on acquiring their own courts through a change to a previously agreed asset transfer.

Members of the Policy and Resources Committee at Moray Council will learn this morning that the five-year rent-free lease previously agreed on the courts in Cooper Park carries too great a risk for the Elgin Tennis Club.

Since the local authority agreed to transfer ownership of the courts, it became apparent that their current condition was much worse than had been anticipated – forcing an expensive course of remedial action that the local club would not be able to afford.

Now the committee are being asked to suspend standing orders and change the terms of the agreement from five years rent-free to ten years.

In a report to the Council today, officials note that “it became apparent that the courts are extremely worn and are in worse condition than originally thought, with excessive moss and heavy wear to the surface finish, including pitting and patch repairs.”

Three options for remedial works subsequently obtained show that it would cost between £16,900 and £56,300 to bring the courts into a usable condition – with both Council officials and the Tennis Club agreeing that a mid-range of around £30,000 would be the most suitable course of action.

The report adds: “The proposed lease includes rights of public access to the courts (details to be agreed) and it is in the Council’s interests to ensure that the courts are improved and maintained to a high standard so the public will have access to upgraded facilities.

“Also at the end of the 10-year lease, with regular maintenance by the Tennis Club over the period of the lease, the courts would be in an improved condition, compared to their current condition.”

Officers have recommended that councillors agree to extend the lease from five years to ten years, giving the club time to put in place the funding they require to upgrade the courts.

Update: No decision was taken when the council met on Tuesday morning – Council Leader Stewart Cree revealed that new funding may have been found for the project and because of this the item has been carried forward to the next meeting of the Committee.