September 27th, 2016

Protest over council axe for Spencer Park’s historic Pavilion and sports facilities

Updated: 3:35 pm, Jun 22, 2015

THE closure of sports facilities and an historic pavilion in a Coventry park are being opposed by residents.

The pavilion in Spencer Park in Earlsdon, Coventry, faces being closed in its cetenery year, alongside the loss of tennis and bowling facilities, due to Coventry City Council cuts.

More than 550 people have signed a petition against the move, presented to the council by Tory Earldson councillor Ken Taylor, a former council leader.

Unspecified cuts to the parks budget formed part of the Labour-run council’s £15million cuts budget pushed through in February – when Labour councillors blamed government funding cuts to the council.

The council’s park service’s operational budget was reduced by £1million this year.

Closing the facilities would save the council £26,000-a-year in net running costs.

The petition requests the council keeps the pavilion open for at least part of each week in the 2015 season and to re-open the tennis courts and the flat bowling green.

The petition reads: “At a time when the number of people using Spencer Park is increasing, the city council is planning to close its unique historic Pavilion, which celebrates its centenary this August.

“If unused, it will be a prime target for vandalism. The flat bowling green will also be closed and the tennis courts will not be open to the general public.”

The four-acre Spencer Park opened in 1883, a council report states.

The council officers’ report to Labour councillor Abdul Khan, cabinet member for leisure, sports and parks recommended they “continue to engage with the Friends of Spencer Park and Recreation Ground regarding the future management and maintenance of the park.”

Council officers argue adequate tennis and bowling facilities are provided within a mile, at the War Memorial Park.

They are recommending the council agrees to only continue to maintain the crown bowling green while a further six-month consultation takes place.

The tennis courts would continue to be used by schools and clubs and “options explored with local groups for wider public access.”

Future management of the park’s facilities by community and sporting groups will be explored.

In addition to the flat bowling green and a separate crown bowling green, the park has four tennis courts.

The council report notes it is a “popular and well used park, particularly with dog walkers” but the income received from the sports facilities falls short of the costs of employing staff.

Two clubs using the now closed flat bowling green have already transferred to the War Memorial Park, while the Albany bowling Club continues to use the crown green and offers coaching sessions to the public.

The tennis courts are used by nearly King Henry XIII school and the Friends group for coaching sessions.

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