Reports details bureaucratic failings that have led to courts being neglected for years.

A report to be presented to this week's Chiswick Area Committee will detail what one Councillor has described a "depressing tale of inaction and incompetence"

The report investigates just why the Tennis Courts on Chiswick Common have remained neglected despite consistent complaints from local residents and councillors.

The Chiswick Area Committee referred the matter to the Council's Overview and Scrutiny Panel earlier this year and the report will be going before this panel on Thursday.

Cllr Peter Thompson said, "The bottom line seems to be that the project got lost in the system!"

The decision to award a management contract for the courts was made back in 1995 but virtually no progess has been made since then. Since June 2000 there have been 4 written reports to CAC Monitoring regarding the proposal.

"A depressing tale of inaction and incompetence"
Cllr. Peter Thompson on the Tennis court report

TFC Leisure had been accepted as the Council's partner to develop the courts. They had agreed to provide the capital investment necessary in order to upgrade them in return for the right to offer professional tennis training on the site. They have been operating a similar scheme in Barnes since 1992.

However because Council officers were not aware that Chiswick Back Common was registered as Common Land (despite the enormous clue in its name) significant delays occured in the hand over process.

When the agreement finally comes into fruition TFC Leisure will develop the three new tennis courts, renovate the existing ones, provide floodlighting and changing facilities. The second stage of the process will involve building a tennis centre.

The report is critical of both Council Officers and CIP, who took over responsibility for the courts, with the other functions of the Council Leisure department. It states "The project, whilst being recognised as being important to the local community, represented a small scale development involving an external company and therefore, in the context of competing demands at the time, failed to have the necessary resource or focus within the Council and subsequently CIP."

It highlights the lack of co-ordination between different departments involved in the project and is critical of the fact that at no point was one officer given responsibility to see the project through.

The report states that it often took several months for action to be taken and admits that the project "was not given the highest priority by all the departments and agencies involved."

It is recommended that a project plan is drawn up for the tennis courts and a lead member of the Council be given responsibility for monitoring progress.

Despite the conclusion of the report there is still no indication as to when work will start on the courts. TFC sought to obtain Planning Permission for the proposed development before entering into detailed negotiations with the Council in 1999. The negotiations have been protracted due to the need to create an extended Management Agreement rather than a Lease. Before any agreement can be completed, it will be necessary to obtain Ministerial Consent for the erection of floodlights to the existing 7 courts, the construction of 3 new courts and for the erection of a building on Common Land.

Full report on the tennis courts

September 25, 2002

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