The public meeting to raise awareness of Whitchurch Tennis Club’s fight to retain its lease was held on 25th of October 2018. It was extremely well attended with over 150 members, local residents and community representatives including Anna McMorrin MP, Julia Morgan AM, Councillors Tim Davies and Linda Morgan, who all confirmed their support for the Club. Julie Morgan AM pledged to work on a cross party basis to do all they can to stop the club’s closure. Mark Lewis from Tennis Wales, and on behalf of the LTA, confirmed their full support for the Club in its fight.
On the night a brief outline of the history of the Club was given by our President, Frank Rees, including reference to a previous threat when the club was situated behind Park Road, causing it to be re-sited to St. Francis Road in 1946. At that time the Hughes family, grandparents of our current landlords, had the foresight to retain the site as a green space for leisure in the area. He also mentioned how in 2012 at the Club’s Centenary Dinner the landlords spoke of their proud family association with the Club and their ongoing support: “We wish the club every success in the centenary and for the next 100 years”.
Addressing the audience, our Club Chairman, Mike Lubienski, noted that, ironically, as we face our greatest challenge yet, the club is thriving on and off court, with a strong balance sheet, growing membership, our teams are flourishing and with over 150 local children participating in the coaching programmes run at the club.
Mike informed those present of how potential development of the Club could affect not only 300+ members but also our neighbours and people in the wider Whitchurch and North Cardiff communities. He also highlighted the club’s excellent relationship with local primary and secondary schools, which use the facilities on a regular basis and the detrimental effect it would have on them.
The situation is serious. Our current lease ends on the 31st December 2019. The lease ran from 1980 for 30 years with an option to extend for another 10. We exercised that option to extend in 2007 and at that time sought to discuss a further extension. From that time on we have sought to engage with the landlords on an extension to the lease, in particular during 2012 when they were hugely supportive of our centenary, formally during our regular rent reviews and with many official approaches from the committee at other times.
Most recently, at the end of 2017, the outgoing Chairman wrote and was told the landlords would respond within 6 months. The 6 months passed in June and despite many approaches from the club Chairman and the media no response has been forthcoming. Whilst the family has a long tradition with the club and has always been supportive the refusal to enter into dialogue with the Club is hugely concerning .
That is why the club has, reluctantly, gone public with its concern, is taking legal and planning advice and has launched a public petition. We are also looking to launch a fundraising campaign and that is why we need your support.
Please sign the online petition https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-WTC
If you are not able to do that paper copies are available at the club and encourage your friends to do so – we have already met our original target of 1,000 signatures. That shows the level of support we have and we are now working towards 5,000 signatures. Please encourage your friends and family to support us and follow the Club on Facebook and/or Twitter and to check the Club’s website for updates. In addition social membership at the Club until March 29th 2019 was offered on the night at £10 per person and take up has been good. Finally, campaign sub committees have been set up, including members of the local community who were keen to support us in our efforts.
We will keep you informed of our efforts to ensure that this historic and vital community asset survives for the next 100 years as the landlord previously publicly stated.