'Hands Off Our Tennis courts'
Website updated: 26th June 2014
Contact 'HOOT': firstname.lastname@example.org
Montefiore Games Centre (update 25th June 2014)
We have just received the document below from the Commons Registration Team at Kent County Council. It is the application to register the old putting green, adjacent to the Montefiore Avenue tennis courts, as a Village Green.
Montefiore Games Centre (update 18th June 2014)
Cllr. Michelle Fenner and Cllr Alan Poole have re-submitted the Village Green Application.
The application is now with Kent County Council awaiting processing. We expect a decision within two months.
Montefiore Games Centre Saved (update 21st December 2010)
After four years of campaigning with residents local Councillors Michelle Fenner and Alan Poole are now cautiously confident that they have saved the Montefiore tennis courts from development.
The Leader of Thanet District Council has been forced to accept the strength of feeling amongst the local community and remove the Montefiore Games Centre from the Council’s asset disposal list.
The Agenda for the Council Asset Management Working Group (10th January 2011) contains the recommendation that the MONTEFIORE GAMES CENTRE is withdrawn from the asset disposal programme.
Cllr Alan Poole said ‘We have won this battle but we will have to continue to be vigilant and hold the Council Leadership to their word’.
Cllr Michelle Fenner said ‘We would like to express our disappointment that a proper debate on the ‘Motion to Council’ was voted down by the Conservative Group of Councillors.
Mike Matthews said ‘One element that was vital to the success of the campaign was the unstinting support of the ward Councillors Alan Poole and Michelle Fenner. They supported HOOT and helped me enormously and I think we would have lost the battle without them.
They represented us and served us well.’
Cllr Alan Poole presented the 1514 signature Petition and this did allow some debate. Eleven local residents, including a 13 year old boy, managed to question the Council Leader on his handling of the proposed Tennis Court disposal.
We would like to thank Mike Matthews for all his hard work preparing and presenting the Village Green Application.
We would also like to thank the local community for their invaluable support and encourage them to continue making full use of the tennis courts and the former putting green.
Montefiore Games Centre (update 22nd October 2010)
The KCC Regulation Committee met on Tuesday 19th October at Thanet District Council Offices, Margate and endorsed the Inquiry Inspector's recommendation to refuse the Montefiore Village Green Application.
This was a disappointment but not entirely unexpected.
Photo - Cllr Alan Poole, Cllr Michelle Fenner and Mike Matthews delivering the Petition, all spoke in favour of the Village Green Application.
Had the Village Green Application been successful Thanet District Council would not have been able to sell the site for housing.
Our thanks to Mike Matthews for the huge amount of time and effort expended preparing and presenting the Village Green Application - without him it wouldn't have happened.
A Petition with 1514 signatures was presented to KCC and TDC.
Our thanks to Sue and many other residents for helping with the petition.
The petition presented to TDC requests the Council to stop the sale of the tennis court site. Under Council rules this will allow a debate to take place at the next Full Council Meeting on Thursday 16th December. This is a public meeting and we would be very grateful for as many residents to attend as possible. We may have lost this battle but the fight goes on.................
Montefiore Games Centre (update 8th June 2010)
Notice from your local councillors regarding the Montefiore Village Green Application:
We have just been informed of the result of the Village Green public enquiry; the inspector has recommended that the registration authority (KCC) should refuse the Montefiore village green application. We are very disappointed with the inspector’s recommendation.
Thanet District Council spent 3 years and a huge amount of public money to deprive the local community access to a piece of land that belongs to the people of Ramsgate.
However, the final decision rests solely with the KCC Regulation Committee Member Panel. It is anticipated that the Committee will meet in July/August; we will send our comments to the meeting.
We will reiterate the strong opposition by the local community to the sale of the land and we will urge the KCC elected members to keep this land for public use. This was the reason it was originally purchased by RAMSGATE BOROUGH COUNCIL IN 1948.
Therefore, we urge local residents to contact KCC to express their opposition to the loss of this public amenity land.
As your Ward Councillors we will be campaigning to raise a new petition from residents against this decision.
We are dismayed that TDC fought its own residents, using vast amounts of public money to do so.
TDC hired a top barrister (costing £20K) whilst the HOOT committee were only able to use local talents.
We will continue to fight against the sale of this public amenity land. We know that there is a huge amount of support in the local community for our campaign and we call upon all residents to join us.
Montefiore Games Centre (update11th March 2010)
The Montefiore Village Green Application Public Enquiry has now been completed.
The Inspector will now consider all the evidence and write her report which will probably not be available until September. Kent County Council Regulation Committee Panel will then decide the Village Green Application.
Our particular thanks go to Mike Matthews who did most of the work, expending a huge amount of time and effort preparing and presenting the Village Green Application.................a job very well done!
Montefiore Games Centre (update 8th March 2010)
The Montefiore Village Green Application Public Enquiry will hold the final meeting on Thursday 11th March, starting at 10:30, Albion House, Ramsgate.
This meeting will allow both sides to summarise their evidence before the Inspector writes her report.
The Inspector will then send her report (with recommendations) to the Kent County Council Regulation Committee.
A Regulation Committee Panel will then decide the Village Green Application.
Montefiore Games Centre (update February 2010)
The Montefiore Village Green Application Public Enquiry commenced on Tuesday 2nd February at Albion House, Ramsgate, and continued until late on Friday.
The Enquiry was conducted by an Inspector (a barrister) appointed by Kent County Council, the Village Green registration authority.
It is for the Applicant to show that ‘on the balance of probabilities’ the site has been used by a significant number of local residents, as of right, for lawful sports and pastimes for at least 20 years.
This (very basically) means the applicant has to show that the site wasn’t fenced properly!
Michael Matthews presented the case for the ‘Applicant’ and called 14 witnesses. The witnesses were thoroughly cross-examined by a barrister, engaged by Thanet District Council, the ‘Objector’ to the application.
The mainly elderly witnesses provided ‘good evidence’ concerning their use of the application site over the last 20 years (1987 to 2007), though some did become a bit confused during the intense cross-examination; some gave evidence for well over an hour!
Michael Matthews and Cllr Michelle Fenner were cross-examined for nearly two hours!
Thanet District Council called five witnesses including two Thanet District Council Officers. The witnesses were cross-examined by Michael Matthews, who has no legal training.
The application site was visited by the Inspector, the Applicant and the Objector on Friday morning.
On Friday morning Thanet District Council produced documents that showed that Ramsgate Borough Council leased the application site from 1944 to 1948.
Conditions applied to the Lease allowed the site to be used only for bowling, tennis, sports and grazing. The application site was purchased by Ramsgate Borough Council in 1948.
Ownership of the site transferred to Thanet District Council in 1972 under Local Government reorganisation.
Maybe with the re-establishment of Ramsgate Town Council the land should be returned?
The Enquiry will re-convene at 10:30 on Thursday 11th February at Albion House, Ramsgate, to hear closing arguments.
Montefiore Games Centre (update January 2010)
The Montefiore Village Green Public Enquiry is scheduled to start at 10:00 on Tuesday 2nd February and will be held at Albion House, Ramsgate.
The Enquiry is likely to continue until Friday 5th February but it may be many months before we receive the Inspector's decision.
HOOT would like to thank Mike Matthews for the huge amount of time, effort and expense that he has expended in preparing the case evidence file (five copies required!). Thanks should also go to Melvyn Robinson for his assistance with the various maps required and the many Residents who have given witness statements. Cllr. Michelle Fenner, Cllr. Alan Poole and the HOOT Committee have also assisted where possible.
I'm sure the Council Tax Payers of Thanet will be interested to hear that Thanet District Council have employed a barrister to present their case.
We would appreciate as many Residents as possible attending the hearing at Albion House to show their support for Mike and the Residents giving evidence.
Montefiore Games Centre (update August 2009)
At the Thanet District Council Cabinet meeting, held on 6th August, the Council Leader made a statement temporarily removing the Montefiore Games Centre from the Asset Disposal Register whilst the Village Green Application remained undetermined.
The Council are legally unable to change the status of the land before the Village Green Application has been determined.
The Village Green Application is due to be heard at a Public Enquiry: this is likely to be held in Ramsgate, probably in January 2010.
It is still the intention of Thanet District Council to sell the tennis courts and former putting green in Montefiore Avenue, Ramsgate (now called the Montefiore Games Centre) for residential housing, if the Village Green Application is unsuccessful.
The Council still maintains that the tennis courts are under used .........see recent photo below.......
The Council, when asked about the availability of tennis courts for hire, omitted to mention the Montefiore Games Centre!
Montefiore Games Centre (update March 2009)
Thanks to innovative legislation provided by the Labour Government and passed by Parliament - Commons Registration (England) Regulations 2008 taking effect 1st October 2008, an application was made to Kent County Council for the ‘putting green’ and tennis courts at Montefiore Avenue, Ramsgate, to be registered as a ‘Village Green’, to be kept free of development and for the benefit of the residents of Ramsgate. (Section 15 of the Commons Act 2006)
The application was made by local residents with the support of their Ward Councillors, Cllr. Michelle Fenner and Cllr. Alan Poole.
A long campaign has been fought under the banner of HOOT (Hands Off Our Tennis courts) which was started two years ago when Thanet District Council decided that they wanted to sell this land for housing development.
South Thanet MP, Dr. Steve Ladyman has pledged his support on many occasions for the HOOT campaign and made it clear that the ‘sell-off’ was entirely a decision made by Thanet District Council and not a Government policy.
The KCC Regulation Committee met on Friday 6th February in Maidstone to determine the outcome of the application.
It is with great satisfaction that we can now report that the committee decided to refer the Village Green Application to a Public Inquiry to ‘clarify the issues.’
The ‘issues’ to be clarified are the ‘status of the perimeter fencing’ which the Council maintains has been ‘completely continuous’ for the last 20 years!
The application and support of the residents was so strong that the elected members on the Regulation Committee could not refuse the application.
This is a very positive outcome and the fight goes on!
An Asset Disposal Consultation meeting was held on Friday 20th February. Cllrs. Michelle Fenner and Alan Poole expressed concern about the potential loss of this important green facility to the current Conservative administration of Thanet District Council.
The disposal of the site for residential housing is contrary to a number of Council and Government policies:-
1. Planning Policy H1- Residential Development Sites. The Montefiore site has not a designated a residential development site in the Local Plan.
2. Planning Policy SR10 – Public Open Space – Development will only be permitted in very exceptional circumstances.
3. Corporate Plan 2007 -11 (recently refreshed) supports the establishment of community space in Ramsgate.
4. PPS 17 – has been incorrectly applied by TDC – there should be more tennis courts not less.
Montefiore Games Centre (27th February 2007)
“HOOT” was formed at a public meeting on the 22nd of February 2007 and was attended by over 100 residents angered by Thanet District Council’s plans to sell-off the tennis courts and adjacent land in Montefiore Avenue, Ramsgate for property development.
The photo shows the committee members at their inaugural meeting with their local councillors Michelle Fenner and Alan Poole.
The plans were only revealed 6 days before the council cabinet meeting at which the decision to sell was rushed through. The hastily prepared residents’ petition containing 350 names was angrily rejected at the meeting by council leader Cllr. Sandy Ezekiel.
These tennis courts have served the community for over 70 years after the land was donated to the people of Ramsgate in the 1930’s.
The decision to sell is seen as the culmination of a concerted series of actions by Thanet District Council to minimise the use of this site over the last few years in particular shutting the courts for over half the year and removing nets.
Thanet District Council have adopted a 30% lower standard of provision than is the recognised national standard to justify the claim that these courts are surplus. This is despite the fact that Tennis ranks in the top 10 of leisure activities ahead of Squash, Badminton, Rugby and Cricket in a survey conducted by the SE Sports Council.
The closure of this sports ground conflicts directly with Government planning policy objectives on the provision of sport and recreation facilities and undermines efforts to improve the fitness of the population and encourage healthier lifestyles.
The Montefiore Avenue tennis courts are the only tennis courts between the centres of Broadstairs and Ramsgate. They are well served by the new coastal cycle routes and existing public footpaths. Located in a safe green enclave close to the park and joining onto the “Birds Bees and Butterflies wildlife habitat” being created at Holy Trinity School, they serve a large and rapidly expanding area containing many new dwellings with an above average proportion of young families.
The decision to proceed with this sale is a blow to local schools that use this facility and a wake up call to all sports clubs in the area. This is likely to be only the first of many attempts to sell off council sports facilities for property speculation.