Weeds sprout up through the neglected playing surfaces of the six tennis courts at Penarth Athletic Field which is under the control of “Fields in Trust “- a body which boasts Roger Federer and Tim Henman as “ambassadors”

Local residents in the Lower Penarth area are becoming increasingly concerned about the fate of a major sporting facility in the town which is –  literally –  being allowed to run to seed by the “charity” Fields in Trust .

The concerns raised are about the six hard-surface tennis courts at Penarth Athletic Fields which are lying un-maintained and idle with weeds and vegetation now growing through cracks in the playing surfaces.

Roger Federer and Tim Henman – both “ambassadors” for Fields in Trust would be hard pressed to play tennis on the courts that their “charity” controls in Penarth

It’s a long time since these six derelict tennis courts saw any sporting action

One resident who has  lived near the tennis courts for 20 years says she can’t recall any maintenance being carried out on the tennis courts in all that time.

The tennis courts  – which are immediately adjacent to the rugby and cricket pitches at Penarth Athletic field and are separated from them only by a hedge and mesh fencing – are now so dilapidated it is likely to cost a substantial sum to resurface them for public use – if indeed they ever are.


Tucked away behind a hedge, seperating them from the rugby pitch, the Penarth Athletic Ground tennis courts are, it seems, out of sight and out of mind

The current situation dates back to decisions made by the last Labour administration in the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

Without any public consultation, legal control of the entire Penarth Athletic Field – including the tennis courts was transferred by the council to the “charity” Fields in Trust   (formerly the National Playing Fields Association)  – an organisation which has since done nothing whatever to reinstate the tennis facilities at the Athletic Ground.

The “management” of the Athletic Field was delegated by “Fields in Trust” to the  Vale of Glamorgan Council.

Fields in Trust  boasts on its website  that Penarth Athletic  Field has  “tennis courts along the south-eastern boundary of the playing fields” – but clearly no one from “Fields in Trust”   has ever visited the courts or bothered to take any action with regard to their progressive deterioration.

Alexandra Park is also now under the control of “Fields in Trust” but managed by the Vale Council

Fields in Trust is the same organisation which – without any public consultation – assumed control of Penarth’s Alexandra Park. This too was a move agreed by the then Labour-controlled Vale of Glamorgan Council. Under the scheme the Vale Council entered into a so-called “Deed of Dedication” to provide what is described as “Centenary Field” status to Alexandra Park.

The legal transfer of these properties to the control of Fields in Trust meant that two prime sites – the Athletic Ground and Alexandra Park – both of which had been originally given to the people of Penarth by the Earl of Plymouth – are now no longer under local control .

A prime Penarth sporting facility has been allowed to fall out of use and run to seed – making a mockery of the lofty professed ambitions of Fields in Trust

Fields in Trust, which has no elected representatives from Penarth on its board, promised that its scheme would assist it in “leveraging funding from other partners”  – in effect suggesting that it would be able to tap-into government grants funded by taxpayer’s money  – but so far there is no evidence of any funding at all being forthcoming for Penarth.

At the time of the deal, the Labour Vale Council claimed that the acquisition would “benefit local residents and park users“, improve their “quality of life” and “address health inequalities”.

There are no nets, no court markings and the hard courts seem to be reverting to grass

Fields in Trust – says in its published “guidelines” that its sites should be “maintained safely and to the highest possible condition”. Local residents say that the current dilapidated state of the six tennis courts makes that lofty aim ring somewhat hollow.

The roll call of the great and the good who are involved in Fields in Trust  ironically includes tennis players Roger Federer and Tim Henman OBE. The charity’s patron is the Queen and the president is Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge .

About NewsNet

Penarth Daily News email address dmj@newsnet.uk . Penarth Daily News is an independent free on-line fair and balanced news service published by NewsNet Ltd covering the town of Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, UK. All our news items are based on the information we receive or discover at the time of publication and are published on the basis that they are accurate to the best of our knowledge and belief at that time. Comments posted on the site by commentators reflect their opinions and are not necessarily shared, endorsed or supported by Penarth Daily News.
This entry was posted in Penarth Daily News. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Ian Norton says:

    Check out the state of thew ‘tennis courts’ in Llandough as well – totally disgusting

    • Philip Rapier says:

      Vale of Glamorgan Council Cowbridge Bias again or is it amnesia that prevents them facing up to their responsibility for these Tennis Courts.

      • Philip Rapier says:

        A tennis/sports enthusiast would be the best person to send a Freedom of Information Request to the Vale of Glamorgan Council.
        Please go to the “What do they know” website and you will be taken through the simple steps.
        Ask when do the Courts reopen.?
        What is the hourly hire rate?
        Who does the booking.?
        When is the close season resurfacing and repair scheduled for?
        Simple really!
        Should wake them up and cure their amnesia..

  2. Phil Dawson says:

    I last played tennis here in 1985 and they were not really fit for purpose then!

    • snoggerdog says:

      that was about the same time as i last played them (with neil lewis) shame that theyve been let go,is tennis not popular so much now? i must admit squash was always my game.

  3. Grim Reaper says:

    Social ‘ousing is much needed in Penarth #muchneededsocialhousing #weneedsocialhousinginpenarth #letswreckpenarth

  4. Chris David says:

    So is anything being done? Is anyone responsible for bringing Fields In Trust to book? Some cynic will suggest this is a ploy to enable Goldsworthy and Co to allow planning for flats there is this isn’t sorted out!

    • Brutalist Truth says:

      Realist probably more accurate than ‘cynic’. I suspect they’re firing up the cement mixers as we speak.

  5. Get the Breeze Blocks Out says:

    This ‘space’ must be keeping greedy developers awake at night.
    You could whack up a good few tenement blocks on that ‘plot’.
    Only downside = there don’t appear to be many trees to destroy, thus less wildlife to perish.
    What’s everyone waiting for? Surely only a matter of time?
    Get ’em up!

  6. There's Posh says:

    what about building a nice exec-oo-tive estate over it?
    3 or 4 houses with their own drive, garage and granite central aisle in the kitchen?
    they could film a new series of Doctor Foster there.

  7. Dizzydeb says:

    I looked for somewhere to play tennis last summer which didn’t involve joining a club. We went along to these courts but they were in really poor condition as the weeds had grown unchecked, so we gave up. We would spend hours playing tennis as children/teenagers. No wonder we have so many unfit, over weight kids in the Vale now. Maybe I’ll contact Fields of trust. Whatever happened to good old fashioned council park keepers?

    • Deuce says:

      Totally agree with everything you say. These courts date back to a time when tennis was played by many and didn’t involve flouncing round at private clubs organising fireworks nights.
      They need to be brought up to scratch for the sake of democratic opportunity and the waistlines of children and adults in the Vale.

  8. James says:

    This would be a fantastic facility for those who don’t want to join a cliquey club.
    Barry has public tennis courts, why not Penarrth????

  9. Chris David says:

    This is what Fields in Trust says “Dear Mr David

    Fields in Trust holds a covenant on the Athletic Ground that ensures it must be preserved as a public playing field. Management and maintenance however rests with the owner the Vale of Glamorgan Council so you will need to contact the Council about your concerns”.

    Kind regards
    Dear old VoG …….again!

    • Brutalist Truth says:

      That’s sealed it then.
      The only question now is whether it’s full-on social housing or a 40% split.

    • Andy Saurus says:

      Gone downhill since the Tories in Cowbridge took over.

  10. mikeyorke says:

    I’ve sent Fields in Trust a tweet and have included Tim Henman & Tanni Grey. We’ll see what they all say if anything

    • mikeyorke says:

      Tanni has replied and asked me to contact her so we’ll see what happens.

    • Chris David says:

      See my posts above and below! Best CD.

      • mikeyorke says:

        Yep. Saw that. But a little pressure from someone with a bit more clout may help. I’ll be speaking with Tanni next week to see who can be pushed for action.

  11. Luca says:

    I remember seeing Federer playing there in 2011. Does anyone have any photos of the event? Would be good to see.

  12. How the Other Half Lives says:

    I see the tennis courts in Barry’s Romilly Park are nicely maintained.

  13. Chris David says:

    Further to my reply- so there’s a contact email PDN and readers can email. Wont hold my breath. Few if any bothered when I got the info on PACL- emailed the MD of VoG and gave you the details!
    Dear Mr David
    Fields in Trust believes that the protection afforded by the covenant restricting the Council’s use of the land to that of a public recreation ground for the benefit of the people of Penarth is a positive.
    You would need to contact the Council at c1v@valeofglamorgan.gov.uk and your query will be directed to the appropriate officer.
    Kind regards
    Rhodri Fields In Trust

    • Andy Saurus says:

      Can’t wait to see you down the Rec in your shorts and headband. Don’t forget the hip flask.

      • Chris David says:

        Ah the plagiarist plonker returns. So what would you prefer- new cycle track or tennis courts sorted out Mr coward.

  14. DontwaketheDragon says:

    Ceri at Sport Wales was very forthcoming in providing me with the contacts:


    Mark at Sport Wales


  15. Fields in Trust would like to correct some misconceptions in this article.

    Founded in 1925 Fields in Trust is a charity which retains the same mission now as it was then: to ensure that everyone – young or old, able-bodied or disabled and wherever they live – should have access to free, local outdoor space for sport, play and recreation. These spaces are vital to building happy and healthy communities and sadly continue to be threatened by all kinds of development.

    Your article states that Fields in Trust “assumed control” of the Penarth Athletic Fields and Alexandra Park. This is incorrect. Fields in Trust has a role as a custodian in these two sites (just as we do in 2,730 others across the UK). We enter into a legal agreement with the landowner which means that before certain developments can take place the owner needs to seek permission from Fields in Trust, this ensures the site is protected from development and will always be available for public recreation. However, it is important to note that ownership and management of the site remain in local hands after Fields in Trust protect any space; local management is best placed to reflect the needs of the community.

    Fields in Trust’s deed of dedication ensures this land will be preserved as a public recreation ground but that its design and layout, management and maintenance rests with the Vale of Glamorgan Council. While we would be delighted to see the tennis courts in good order we appreciate the financial difficulties that local authorities face and although they may be in a poor condition currently our protection ensures they will remain as a public space to allow for a potential upgrade when possible.

    Further details about Fields in Trust Protection are set out on our website: http://www.fieldsintrust.org/
    I would be happy to address further questions about our role.

    Richard McKeever
    Communications Manager

    • Gomer Davies says:

      Can’t believe how this thread has gone quiet as soon as something authoritative is posted.

  16. Chris David says:

    Authoritative! ? Seems a tad toothless to me. Of little use but may stop Goldsworthy building on them. So new cycle track or mend the tennis courts?

Comments are closed.