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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Council's tennis fee hike comes unstrung

Dear Beagle Editor, The following is the submission of the Broulee Tennis Complex Management Committee and the Broulee Tennis Social Club to Council's Management Plan - Draft fees and charges 2017/18

Dear Madam

The members of the Broulee Tennis Complex Management Committee and the Broulee Tennis Social Club are most concerned by the proposal to levy all player’s fees at a rate of $8.70 for members and $17.00 for non-members.

This proposal was announced at a Sports Forum meeting in March 2017, The Sports Forum being the new Council body replacing the now defunct Sports Council, and was attended by reps from the Broulee club and the Eurobodalla District Tennis Association (EDTA).

The present fee structure, which was devised after many meetings of the Sports Council Tennis Specific body, with reps from all clubs, has proven to be a fair and reasonable method of collecting player’s fees for both competition and social tennis.

The levy of hourly rates for casual member’s hire and non-members hire has worked well.

This current proposed fee levy structure is nothing new as Council’s proposal to levy all club users a fee of $6.00 per hour per court was proposed back in 2006 and quickly rescinded following the justified objections from all social and competition club players. A fee of $2.00 per player per session was subsequently introduced and has been the levy applied with an increase each year in line with CPI with the current fee being $3.60 per player per session.

A Council representative addressed the EDTA meeting held in March to advise all club representatives of the proposed changes to playing levies for tennis. It quickly became apparent that social and competition groups would be facing large increases to their fees.

She could not offer any reason why such a large increase was justified other than the simplification of fee collection. Our club has been collecting the fees and sending them to Council on a monthly basis for the last 10 years so simplification is hardly a viable explanation.

After obtaining a copy of the new proposed fees listed on Council’s web site imagine our surprise and outrage to discover that the fees for all the other sports were listed with no increase whatsoever!

This fact is even more amazing considering that all their ground maintenance is carried out by council and a council rep stated, when questioned, that no cost recovery applied to these sports.

Unlike most of the other sports tennis does not have a specific time frame. One set of competition tennis can take up to 1 hour to complete. Allowing an average time of 40 minutes for each set a match, which is 8 sets, can take as long as 4 hours to complete.

Most of our players are close to 60 years or older and understandably need a break between sets and a break for lunch. Actual playing time per player could vary by as much as 30 minutes over the course of a match and would be approximately 3 to 4 hours each.

The present fee per competition player is $3.60 per match which equates to $54.00 per competition (15 rounds) compared to a netball fee of $26.00 and a football fee of $37 per competition. Tennis fees are already $28.00 more than netball and $17.00 more than the football codes per competition.

The proposed new fee for tennis players would be $99.00 per competition based on $6.60 per 3 hour match over 15 rounds which equates to $73.00 more than netball and $62 more than football.

To the casual observer the huge increase would not be apparent - $8.70 per court per hour. No increase to last year’s fee .However when you do the sums it becomes evident that there is a very large fee increase. The Broulee club organises 3 main events each week. A ladies social day, Thursday ladies competition day and a mixed social day.

The fee comparison for each of these events is:

Present Fee:

Wednesday Ladies Social per session $3.60 $3.60 per week

Thursday Ladies competition per session $3.60 $3.60 per week

Friday morning mixed social per session $3.60 $3.60 per week

Total $10.80 per week

New proposed fee

Wednesday Ladies social 3hrs @ $2.20 $6.60 per week

Thursday Ladies competition 3hrs @ $2.20 $6.60 per week

Friday morning mixed social 3hrs @ $2.20 $6.60 per week

Total $19.80 per week

This is a $9.00 increase to playing fees per week which equates to an 83% increase.

Surely council can see what an enormous increase this is and the potential impact this has to seriously deplete our competition and social numbers as a big majority of our players are on fixed incomes and would not be able to absorb such a huge elevation of their fees.

Having studied the proposed fees for other sports in the shire, with no increase this year, which incidentally unlike tennis have their playing fields prepared and maintained by Council, we are amazed at the exorbitant increase in fees suggested for tennis players. Most other sports in the shire also have included in their fee structure, which is considerably lower per competition than those proposed for tennis, provision for one training sessions per week. Why does Council feel that competition tennis players do not need to practice?

The management of an hourly fee for social players would be horrific.

Does our court organiser shout at Fred and Dave to get off the court your hour is up, then again at Bob and Joe your 2 hours are up get off the court? Some players may opt to play for half hour intervals further complicating the management of time frames and the collection of player’s fees. How will this simplify the collection of fees?

The whole concept of social tennis is to play with and against different players on the day to have a cuppa and a chat in between sets, to exchange views and ideas on a range of subjects and to go home feeling the better for the exercise and social contact.

The present fee for a session works well. Why change it?

The proposed change to an hourly rate for all tennis is indicative of how little research, consultation and thought has gone into the introduction of these proposed new fees.

Not a good look for a Council which when elected promised open and consultative administration.

The Broulee tennis club has successfully managed its affairs for the last 45 years with very little involvement from Council. The courts were financed, constructed, and upgraded from ant bed to flexi pave to artificial grass by the residents of the Broulee community at no cost to Council.

We had a major upgrade in 2013 which involved a complete upgrade of the court surface, removal of tree roots and installation of root guard and relaying of synthetic grass on our 3 courts. At least two thirds of this costly upgrade was contributed by the Broulee Tennis Complex Management Committee and the Broulee Tennis Social Club.

The Broulee Tennis Club is situated between two thriving privately owned clubs, namely the Tomakin Sports Club and the Moruya Bowling Club whose playing fees are already considerately lower than our member’s. Bearing this in mind we have through good management endeavoured to make the Broulee Club viable by keeping our costs at a minimum. With any substantial increase in costs the club may find itself losing members to these other suddenly much more affordable clubs. A large proportion of our members are retirees surviving on pensions and part pensions who do not get substantial increases to their disposable incomes each year and will be unable to cover the increased costs and as a result will be forced to restrict their participation or drop out of tennis.

The Broulee club has always encouraged and provided social tennis for the older members of our community. Some of our members are now in their eighties and one member has just turned 93. Our committee feels that this is an essential service and we have an obligation to provide the opportunity for older members of our community to continue playing for as long as they are able. Keeping active is vital to maintaining good health especially in our later years.

We also encourage junior participation at the club. Three Broulee teams competed in the last Saturday morning competition

Richard Selleck has been coaching at Broulee one day per week for the last 13 years.

The proposed major increase for coach’s usage of the courts will most certainly see the loss of his services as he will be unable to absorb such a large increase and will be forced to cease coaching at Broulee. Most of the children who are coached by Richard walk or ride bikes to their coaching sessions. These children will drop out of tennis.

We are indeed fearful that a large number of our older members will also be forced to drop out of both social and competition tennis which would leave our very successful club facing financial problems for the first time in its long and successful history. We urge Council to look at the demographics of our region, the fact that people can play tennis from seven to seventy and indeed to ninety and that they should have the opportunity do so without being priced out of the sport they love.

Council Fees are not the only fees levied on club players. We all have affiliation fees, Public liability and player insurance fees, equipment and in Tennis, ball fees, presently a $3.00 per ball per player levy for competition home matches and the list goes on.

Tennis New South Wales has reported a loss of over two hundred tennis clubs in New South Wales in the last few years. Many of these closures are directly attributable to increased costs imposed by their local councils.

Does council want local tennis clubs to meet the same fate?

The Broulee Tennis Complex Management Committee recommends that its members continue to pay the present fees until some meaningful consultation and discussion is implemented to resolve all the issues arising from the new proposed levies especially when there is no proposed increase to any other sporting body in the shire.

Yours faithfully

Marie Barritt-Eyles


NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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