Letters: There are two sides to tennis clubs



I am chairman of a small tennis club in rural Somerset (letters, 10 July) where junior membership costs less than 50p a week and for an extra £2.50 juniors can purchase a court key that allows them to book courts and play at almost any time.

For an extra £7, their parents can take out a membership that allows them to play with their children only. Full adult membership is £130. I do not consider these fees expensive.

We have four all-weather courts, two of them floodlit, and we need to put £6,000 a year into a sinking fund for maintenance and court resurfacing. That is not easy with about 90 adult members and 35 juniors.

We have good contacts with local first and middle schools part-funded by the LTA and run several successful junior events sponsored by local businesses. While not agreeing with everything the LTA do, I have to say that we have received excellent support over many years from our county development officer who has helped to establish coaching programmes and provided some funding.

I too would like to see more of the LTA's vast resources being pumped into grassroots tennis; coaching costs and coaching time can be expensive but in my experience most parents are reasonably happy to pay between £2 and £4 an hour for an organised squad session.

I spend on average eight or nine unpaid hours per week on club business and have a small hard-working committee all doing their best to make sure tennis continues to happen in the community and our children are able to play the game without incurring excessive costs.

Paul Rees

Minehead, Somerset

I live in the village of Read in the Ribble Valley where we have a tennis club of four hard courts and clubhouse set in beautiful countryside.

We offer membership at £75 per player over 18, children free, balls are provided and an LTA-accredited coach takes all the local children through the different age groups at minimal cost.

Sadly, this 100-year-old club is in danger of folding due to lack of interest. The adults can't be bothered and the children, when they reach the age of about 12, find more exciting things to do.

Gary Kirk

Read, Ribble Valley

We are safer with G4S relieved of Games security

The peeople of London should already be feeling safer, knowing that G4S is being relieved of some of its responsibility for "securing" the Olympics. This is a company said to be involved in Israel's belligerent and illegal occupation of Palestinian territory.

The politicians responsible for the Games dismissed concerns about this, which were articulated by faith representatives, after reassurances from G4S.

The chequered history of this company includes the deaths of Jimmy Mubenga and Gareth Myatt while in the custody of G4S operatives. It has been alleged that G4S is derelict in its recruitment, its training and its payment to its employees. It has been the subject of many complaints by immigration detainees, including claims of assault and many of racial abuse.

It therefore beggars belief that this company, shown to be so incompetent in its handling of the Olympics, is now bidding to take over large swaths of our public provision.

It is in the running for contracts in the criminal justice, education, health, welfare to work and border agency services. It is surely not too late for the Government to exclude this compromised company from bidding for any further public contract.

Diana Neslen


The Home Secretary Theresa May and the Olympic organisers should pray that no eagle-eyed Masai tribesman or human rights lawyer reads the so-called Olympic banned list ("No frisbees, picnic hampers or vuvuzelas: Items banned from the Olympics", 12 July).

With the controversies covering over-budget, missiles on residential homes, marketing of junk food and the use of soldiers to police the event already casting a shadow, they could be sued for discrimination on racial ground if they allow the Sikh article of faith, the kirpan/ceremonial dagger, but ban spears and clubs, which are integral to the Masai culture.

The Masai tribesmen are some of the best marathon runners in East Africa. In 2008, six Masai men ran in the Flora London Marathon and toured Trafalgar Square, all carrying their traditional spears and clubs, without which no self-respecting tribesman will leave his home.

Sam Akaki

London W3

What a shambles our Government seems to be as they lurch from one self-inflicted crisis to another, the latest being the security arrangements at the Olympics.

Now that we have been reduced to a laughing stock, can we at least expect them to give a serious rethink to their plans for private enterprise to "help" our police forces and have much more involvement with the army? If this fiasco serves any purpose at all, at least it demonstrates that this really is a privatisation too far.

Julie Partridge

London SE15

With 14,000 athletes and 17,000 military personnel, perhaps the GB medal count could be significantly enhanced if the organisers were to introduce synchronised military manoeuvres as an event.

Jonathan Swabey

Martock, Somerset

With unemployment approaching the three million mark, how can G4S fail to recruit enough security staff?

Donald Brown

Weston-super-Mare, Somerset

Thatcher policies back in place

After 13 years of a Labour government that had grown tired and were out of fresh ideas, even I thought we needed a change. I mean how bad could the alternative be, with that personable, born-again eco-warrior David Cameron, a champion of compassionate Conservatism, and his band of reformed MPs in charge. They were no Thatcher government, were they? How wrong could I have been? Reading the case study "We need a cap on costs" really brought it home to me. Nothing has changed, the Conservatives are still the party of the self-interested, power-hungry greedy who look down on the less fortunate.

There could not be a more vivid representation of the haves versus the have-nots than the story of the young Down's Syndrome woman living with her parents, deprived of her weekly activities and slipping into depression, a victim of the Goverment's benefit cuts, contrasting with yet another easy hand-out to the super-rich that they should not be burdened with 50 per cent income tax.

What baffles me is why so many ordinary people vote for them? Is it because deep down they aspire to be like them? It is a truly depressing indictment.

Jim Whatley

Winchester, Hampshire

Reform of the concessionary travel schemes is long overdue; they were introduced separately, in haste, as political sweeteners in the face of research which showed they were unsustainable in the long-term.

With smartcard technology, we could introduce a UK-wide concessionary travel card by 2015 for bus, rail, coach, tram and ferry available to all seniors and disabled people which could offer unlimited free travel to some holders. Others could have a restricted annual allowance with the option to top up to travel more; it could be set at 65 per cent of the adult fare.

This would prevent arguments between local authorities and bus operators over reimbursement rates, and give operators confidence to invest in the bus network without the fear that they may receive derisory reimbursement for some concessionary journeys which can be as low as 25 per cent for some longer ones.

Smaller operators could be offered smartcard ticketing equipment on cut-rate leases to avoid the need for high capital expenditure, a disincentive to them to adopt smartcards.

Dr John Disney

Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University

Lawless militias strangling Libya

Kim Sengupta's disturbing report on factional violence in eastern Libya is just one part of a frightening picture emerging in Libya ("A violent return to democracy", 9 July). Our research shows that hundreds of militia groups now have the country in a stranglehold, operating above the law and meting out the roughest of rough justice.

In particular, Libya's revolutionary fighters, the thuwwar, have been operating as vigilante groups, hunting down perceived Gaddafi loyalists (many actually sub-Saharan African migrants or simply members of communities considered hostile to the revolution).

About 4,000 detainees are now held outside the reach of the central authorities, some for more than a year, in often abysmal conditions where torture is rife. We have recorded at least 20 deaths in custody as a result of torture since August.

If the stranglehold of Libya's lawless militias is not broken soon, post-Gaddafi Libya will begin to more and more resemble the violent, repressive country that preceded it.

Kate Allen

Director, Amnesty International UK, London EC2

In brief...

£290m Barclays parking ticket

A back-of-a-beermap calculation of the impact of the £290m fine on Barclays shows that it represents 1/38th of the bank's £11bn profit for 2009. If an average wage-earner made £2,500 profit in a year, that fraction would work out at £65. So Barclays were fined the equivalent of a parking ticket for all their foul misdemeanours.

Patrick Tansey


No slavers these

Given the attitude towards the jobless in the UK, I would have been only slightly surprised had the Connors ("Travellers kept slaves in concentration camp", 12 July) been lauded as altruistic entrepreneurs re-establishing a sense of purpose for the poor and dispossessed and encouraging them not to be a burden on the state.

Alan Pearson

Great Ayton, North Yorkshire

Salute to a star

Never mind Peter O'Toole's social excesses (report, 12 July), he was an electrifying stage-presence. His Irving-like Shylock and technically amazing Evening With Jeffrey Bernard showed that. I owe him a great deal. As his understudy, I played Thersites in Troilus and Cressida when he was being screen-tested for Lawrence of Arabia. As a result, I got eight years' work with the RSC. Thank you, Maestro. Have a happy retirement.

Clive Swift

London NW8.

Clear winner

For all that your correspondents have brought about foreign alternatives (letters, 9 July) I do not believe any other country has a sign which has so easily, with four marks of the pen, been altered from DO NOT LEAN OUT OF THE WINDOW to DO NOT CLEAN SOOT OFF THE WINDOW. Delicious.

Pat Johnston

Hexham, Northumberland

Fair trade milk

Dairy farmers who do not make a profit on milk (report, 11 July) should name the supermarkets who pay them less than cost so we can buy from supermarkets which pay a rate that will sustain the industry?

GilLian Farley

Easton, Suffolk

See, no asterisks

Until the John Terry trial, I thought that Suchandsuch FC meant football club.

Wesley Downs

Bewdley, Worcestershire

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS1 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Supply Teacher re...

KS2 Teaching Supply Wakefield

£140 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Primary Teachers Needed for Supply in Wakefield

£140 - £160 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1&2 Supply Te...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Residents of the Gravesham constituency are 10 times closer to what Peter Hain scorns as the “Westminster elite” than are those of Linlithgow and East Falkirk  

Will no one stop the march of localism?

Jonathan Meades
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam