£50K loan for Radipole Park & Gardens could be turned down

£50K loan for Radipole Park & Gardens could be turned down

Published by Maria Greenwood at 7:37am 6th November 2019.

A £50,000 loan towards the cost of re-developing Weymouth’s Radipole Park and Gardens may be turned down – because of the conditions attached to it.

The money has been offered by the Lawn Tennis Association to secure a £50,000 shortfall in contributions towards a £1.4million grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund Parks for People scheme.

Details of the scheme, necessary for the next funding round, have to be submitted in early 2020.

Weymouth Town clerk Jane Biscombe says that while discussions with the LTA continue to be positive and supportive their funding system now only offers interest free loans and not grants – which are tied to conditions about how the courts within the scheme must be used.

tennis courts
Tennis courts at Radipole Park & Gardens, Weymouth

These include introducing an online booking system, a pay and play operation, a membership scheme at £35 per household, having to hold a range of training courses and an agreement with a coaching provider.

Town councillors are being told that many of these would conflict with the interests of the Weymouth Tennis Club and would introduce charges for using the courts for the first time.

It is claimed many of the requirements would also take up additional staff time and come with an on-going cost.

Ball on clay tennis court

The report which goes before the town council finance and governance committee today ( 6 November) says:

"Whilst the offer of an interest free loan is attractive, the conditions of the loan would require significant additional staff and financial resources over the duration of the loan.  

"This would be beyond the capacity of the current Parks and Open Spaces team and budget to deliver.

"In addition, the notion of introducing charging and developing activities is in direct competition with the council’s on-site lease holder and could also potentially disproportionately disadvantage those who are least able to pay."

'Recommendations'

The committee is being recommended not to proceed with the LTA funding and to, instead, ringfence £25,000 in its budget  to offset against the £50,000 shortfall, if it if needed.

The same meeting will be told that the council is currently heading for a £100,000 potential underspend at the end of the year.

By Trevor Bevins, Local Democracy Reporter