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31 March, 2021

Atherton Tennis left in the dark

THE Atherton Tennis Club is up in arms after the Tablelands Regional Council (TRC) removed and disposed of their court lights without the club’s knowledge.

By Rhys Thomas

The Atherton Tennis Club has been left without lights as the Tablelands Regional Council recently removed all of their court lights

THE Atherton Tennis Club is up in arms after the Tablelands Regional Council (TRC) removed and disposed of their court lights without the club’s knowledge. 

After a safety compliance check of the club on April 10, 2019, two of the lighting poles in the front courts of the club were identified as in poor condition with significant internal rot. 

All the remaining poles and lights showed further issues including, insulation damage/ bare wires, severely rusted light brackets and an electrical box that was hanging by cables.

A report highlighted the safety concerns of the lights including fixtures falling and two of the rotting poles that could possibly collapse onto the courts. Council made the decision to disconnect and remove all lighting fixtures and associated electrical wiring. 

Repairs were carried out on February 24 to replace an electrical pole which had both the main switchboard and Ergon attachment point and two other poles that supported lights. 

Atherton Tennis Club President James Drinnan said that the club was informed of Councils decision to remove the lights but was not aware that the lights the club paid for, were to be destroyed. 

“We had agreed that the two posts were dangerous and needed to be removed, and that we would like them replaced,” he said. 

“We assumed that they would replace the posts and then put the lights back up, but they removed all the lights and proceeded to destroy them. 

“The tennis club was under the impression that our lights were going to be left in the clubhouse until the posts were put up and the brackets replaced.”

This was not the case however as council officers not only removed their lights, but had also taken them to the dump to be destroyed.

“We were really annoyed because we played on Monday night and by Wednesday everything was gone,” Mr Drinnan said. 

TRC Mayor Rod Marti said that council had failed to properly inform and engage with the tennis club on its decision regarding their lights. 

“It’s fair to say that council could have done better in its engagement with the tennis club, the consultation and engagement certainly didn’t meet a minimum standard,” he said. 

“The lights were taken down because after the inspection done by council some of the fittings weren’t safe, although the lights themselves were functional.

“Council made an assessment and believed that there was a safety issue but our engagement with the club wasn’t good enough.” 

To rectify their mistake, council has made the decision to provide and install the lighting for the front three courts using $56,000 from the 20/21 capital budget. 

This decision was passed four to three with Acting Mayor Kevin Cardew breaking the tie as Mayor Marti had to exit the room due to a conflict of interest. 

“The decision that council made today certainly doesn’t make amends for that. We certainly want to improve the way we engage with community and sporting groups,” Cr Marti said.

“The club paid for the lights they installed, they maintain the courts, they’re running the show.

“Council has gone in, done an inspection said, ‘that’s not safe we better take action’. 

“We feel that what we’ve done with the tennis club is try to make the best out of a poor situation.” 

The Atherton Tennis Club accepts council’s decision at this time, however, the club feels they are owed more lighting in the next budget.

As council has removed all the lights that were purchased by the Atherton Tennis Club, the club feels that it should have all those lights replaced.

“If we’re getting brand new lights and wiring and the council is contributing fund for the first time ever into the club for 30 years, we have to be grateful,” Mr Drinnan said.

“But we started off with four lit courts and now we only get three.

“It was all Atherton Tennis Club members money that put those lights in.

“If we can get something in writing that says at the moment, this is a stop gap measure, we will be extremely happy with that, but we still feel that they owe us to have all our courts under lights.” 

The Atherton Tennis Club held a meeting with TRC yesterday, (Tuesday, March 30) to further discuss this issue moving forward. 

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