'We want the ball back in our courts'

HUNDREDS of people are campaigning to bring a rundown sports facility back to life.

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Hundreds have launched a campaign to spruce up the tennis courts
Hundreds have launched a campaign to spruce up the tennis courts

The tennis courts in Newlands Park, in the south of the city, have fallen into disrepair over the past three decades.

And now more than 250 local people have got behind a campaign to return the courts to their former glory.

Residents from Newlands, Auldhouse, Merrylee, Shawlands, Hillpark and Giffnock recently worked with council staff on a day of action to improve the courts.

But they have now set up a committee in a bid to get funding to completely revive the facility.

Campaigner Carol Biggart, 54, from Newlands, said: "There's loads of people from many areas near the park who would benefit from having some serviceable courts.

"I walk my dog in the park and it's saddened me to see the courts falling into disrepair

"People still use them but they need to be refurbished.

"We've got the Commonwealth Games coming up and Andy Murray has helped bring the profile of tennis up, so we need to strike while the iron is hot."

The park dates back to the 1920s and the courts were kept in a good condition by the council until around 1985.

The pavilion has been closed for more than 20 years – but campaigners hope it can be restored after the courts are brought back to life.

Ruth Lalor, lives in Mount Florida but works in Newlands.

The 29-year-old said: "I have used Newlands Park for sports since I was eight.

"I would like to see the tennis courts being brought up to a playable standard, with firm plans in place to ensure they are regularly maintained.

"This will re-establish an important community facility for all ages to use now and in the future.

"I would urge anybody with a passion to improve Newlands Park to support the campaign and the fundraising activities that will be taking place over the coming months.'

A second community clean- up will take place in March and a family fun day is planned for June.

It is hoped the courts will be refurbished into all weather surfaces by the start of the Commonwealth Games in the summer of 2014.

The campaign is liaising with schools and after school clubs to get more support.

Olivia McKendrick, eight, attends the nearby Our Lady of the Annunciation Primary School in Merrylee.

She said: "I think doing up the tennis courts is a brilliant idea.

"I think it would make the park better for children my age."

Newlands councillor Stephen Curran has also thrown his weight behind the campaign.

He said: "I'm very pleased to support the campaign. It is initially focused on bringing the court area back to life and is also looking at wider improvements across the park.

"Like all parks in Glasgow, it serves not just the immediate community of Newlands but surrounding areas too such as Auldhouse and Shawlands."

"The council couldn't sustain three tennis courts in the park a number of years ago, but we all have a real opportunity to develop something special in Newlands Park led by local residents."

A council spokesman said: "We are delighted by the group's enthusiasm and are working with them to look at ways the park and its tennis courts can be improved for the benefit of everyone."

rachel.loxton@ heraldandtimes.co.uk

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