Highbury Fields Tennis Steering Group (HFTSG) Terms of Reference
Tennis on Highbury Fields
Tennis on Highbury Fields is vibrant, community based, inclusive and aspirational. The courts are public courts, provided and maintained by London Borough of Islington. The community feel of the courts stems from the mix of organised tennis provided by amateur, professional, volunteer and commercial providers.
The Highbury Fields Steering group was set up in 2011 to help sustain the provision and ensure that those who are responsible for managing the courts respect the tennis community, and benefit from the experience of the tennis players who use the facilities and to co-ordinate and improve communication between the various organisers of tennis.
The impact of this work is that Highbury Fields has many entry points to tennis, competition tennis is available for anyone who wants to play individually or within teams, coaching is available 7 days a week, social play is available for individuals at all levels. Most courts have been resurfaced, are well maintained and are easily booked through online provision, to support all types of play. Plans are in place for the improvement of a further three courts. Tennis players experiences are taken account of by those with the responsibility for providing the facilities.
Highbury Fields Tennis Community
Highbury fields has a dynamic tennis community comprised of the following:
Licensed Coaches providing individual and group coaching, Saturday and Sunday Social drop in tennis groups, The Highbury Fields Local Tennis Leagues singles, doubles and seniors, Highbury Tennis Club; Ladies and Men’s tennis teams match and practise sessions, Better Ltd provided tennis courses for adults and young people, school sports provision, youth tennis groups, regular individual players, ad hoc tennis players.
THE HFTSG seeks to provide a voice to the breadth of this tennis community. The HFTSG is committed to ensure that the HF tennis community retains its diverse and dynamic nature, that it is not dominated by one or two providers or groups and that it is recognised as being a facility for the diverse population of Islington.
It does this by:
- providing a voice to the many tennis players at Highbury Fields public courts to those who are responsible for managing the courts and tennis provision and supporting facilities such as the on-line booking system.
- improving the quality of the provision of tennis facilities at Highbury Fields, through co-ordinated and focused feedback about the playing conditions, booking systems, needs and experiences of players.
- providing a vehicle for those managing the facilities, particularly Islington council officers and Better management, whereby they can seek views and input into the decision-making process and seek feedback on initiatives and services.
- improving communication to tennis users on Highbury Fields
- contributing to the co-ordination of tennis provision on Highbury Fields courts, so that there is a balance of provision across the many different playing groups.
- enabling the diverse tennis playing community at Highbury Fields to have a voice at the local resident and community forums.
Within the above purpose we have some common aims:
- To promote tennis playing at all levels on Highbury Fields
- To secure the provision of high quality tennis facilities
- To encourage members of the Islington community to play tennis
- To identify and promote best practise
- To support the official coaching standards (e.g. Coachmarque qualifications)
- To support the courts at Highbury Fields as a public facility
- To support fair access to courts for all users
- To broaden the provision of organised tennis activities for all elements of the local population with particular emphasis on encouraging new players, returners and those seeking to improve their tennis.
Highbury Fields Tennis Steering Group (HFTSG)
The HFTSG is an informal group of interested individuals who represent the main users of the tennis courts. There are representatives of those who provide coaching, who provide co-ordinated and structured tennis play and members of the public who seek casual adhoc play. The HFTSG has no legal status and no legal responsibilities.
The condition of the courts and their upkeep are a significant issue. To effect better communications, a member of the court maintenance team, based in the tennis hut is invited to attend the meetings of the steering group.
The HFTSG will:
- identify opportunities to develop the tennis and support facilities at Highbury Fields.
- seek to support as many and wide a variety of tennis providers on the Fields as possible. However, it will not seek to promote the individual interests of any particular user group over any other.
- seek to represent and work on behalf of all local tennis players
- explore the impact of proposed changes to the tennis facilities, both courts and booking systems
- explore the impact of changes to commercially provided tennis courses and arrangements, the number of “recognised” providers of tennis coaching, the number of and timing of pre-booked and preferential booking arrangements
The HFTSG is committed to be transparent, open and accessible.
There are five coaches who are licensed to provide tennis coaching at Highbury Fields. They are recognised as being an essential element of developing tennis in the borough. The coaches, many of whom have worked for years on the courts are contracted and licensed by Better. They are required to undertake 5 hours of coaching work to support tennis development. One of the coaches is the dedicated Highbury Fields Tennis Club coach and a further one undertakes team training for one of the women’s teams.
Highbury Tennis Club
Launched in 2012 to encourage social and competitive play at Highbury Fields. There are five ladies and three men’s teams. The eight teams play competitively in the Middlesex Summer League, the Winter Floodlit League, the Middlesex Cup and the Aegon Team Tennis competition. The club has c100 members.
Highbury Fields Local Tennis Leagues
Local Tennis Leagues Ltd, started as a fledgling league on Highbury Fields in May 2005. The Highbury Fields League led to dozens of others all over the UK. As of today, there are nearly 200 leagues nationwide, with new ones being added all the time. The tennis league concept is approved by and affiliated to the LTA, the governing body, and recognised by the Tennis Foundation, a charity set up by the LTA to promote grass-roots tennis. Local Tennis Leagues is registered as a Place to Play with the LTA and entered into a four year partnership agreement with the LTA in 2015.
At Highbury there are singles and doubles leagues, a senior league shared with Highgate and a ladies singles league.
There are1800 local players on the Highbury databases. Circa c150 people play in any one singles round, 100 in a doubles round and circa 600 unique individuals take part in a calendar year.
Drop in Social Tennis Saturday and Sunday
The Saturday social drop in session began in April 2002 and has been running continuously since then they are lightly organised social play sessions run by Islington council volunteers with the cost of the courts and balls being covered by a pay to play charge. In 2009 a Sunday session was introduced to meet the demand. The sessions are open to anyone to come along and play with no pre- registration or booking. They are particularly suitable for those returning to tennis after a break, beginners who want to practise their skills and those who have moved to the area looking to meet fellow tennis players. The sessions are played on court 5 and 6. When possible additional courts are booked during busy periods. The sessions run all year. Across both sessions there are likely to be c 30 people playing each week. Some players attend regularly others sporadically. In any year there are likely to be c80 -100 unique individuals playing social tennis.
Better, the trading name of Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) have the contract to run all the leisure services in Islington by the council. Whilst they do not manage the courts, the booking system is provided by Better and they are responsible for developing tennis in the borough. To this end they license and employ coaches and run tennis courses and events at Highbury and other courts in the borough.
General Public Casual Players
Highbury Fields tennis courts are a public facility. The level of demand on the courts is very high, the organising groups are very successful in generating interest in tennis not just at organised times, but for general ad hoc play. It is important that the voices of the casual users are also heard, and their needs considered. As they are not organised, representation is difficult. However, two regular casual players are asked to participate in the HFTSG to provide a voice to their fellow users.
Any other organisation that seeks to provide tennis on Highbury Fields will be welcome to apply to join the steering group.
Court Maintenance and management team
The courts are the direct responsibility of London Borough of Islington and are managed by their inhouse team. The tennis community benefit from the 7 day a week, 8am to 9pm presence of a maintenance and park keeper in the tennis hut. Their presence contributes to the feeling of security, especially in the evening, they support the online booking and administration of the courts, they are responsible for keeping the courts neat and tidy and undertake regular maintenance activity. To improve communications between the maintenance team and the tennis users one of the team will be invited to attend the meetings.
Current Representatives – September 2018:
Coaches: Hitesh Soma, Jon Paul Mbaka, Viren Soma, Wendy Proudfoot
Highbury Fields Local Tennis League: Founding owners: Sally Kinnes, Nigel Billen
The Saturday and Sunday Social Mix In: Volunteer organisers: Gerrard Wilson, Jill McLaughlin
Highbury Tennis Club: Elected volunteers: Phillip Wigan, AN other
Better Tennis Development Officer – Joachim Treasurer
General Public Casual Player representative – Adam Caplin, AN other
The HFTSG representatives elects a Chair and Secretary to provide leadership and organisation to the group, to undertake the administrative activities necessary to make the HFTSG work effectively to undertake specific roles representing the HFTSG.
The HFTSG is recognised as the group which the London Borough of Islington council, Better management and any other body approaches to seek input relating to the provision of tennis and associated issues at Highbury Fields.
All members will seek to reinforce the representation role of the HFTSG.
The HFTSG is an informal group, it has no legal status and no legal responsibilities. The following guidelines are designed to provide structure to the group so that it may effectively, fairly and transparently represent the stakeholder group of tennis users.
Meetings will usually take place quarterly in October, January, April and July. Meetings will be set at least 7 days in advance.
All representatives are invited to contribute to the agenda.
All meetings will have an agenda, which all representatives are asked to contribute to.
Minutes/action points will be noted and circulated within 5 days of the meeting to all members. Once they have been agreed, they will be posted on the HFTSG website.
Developing a collective view:
The HFTSG is not a decision-making body, it has no role in the management of the courts. Its role is to represent the stakeholders, to ensure tennis court user voices are heard and to represent those voices. Where possible the HFTSG will attempt to reach a consensus, and will, seek to represent the relative strengths of opinions provided. When consensus is not reached, it will seek to represent all views and as appropriate will take votes to ascertain the strength of opinion and majority view.
The intention will be for all members to attend all meetings, however inevitably there will be occasions when this will not be possible. Where important discussions are required at meetings where not all members can be present, then the views of all members will be sought in advance and the absent member will be able to nominate another member to put their point of view. Substitutes may be provided
To ensure maximum participation and representation each meeting must have a minimum of four people present in total. Those four must include a coach and a representative from at least three the following groups: Highbury Fields Tennis League (Local Tennis Leagues), The Saturday Social Mix-in, The Highbury Tennis Club, the general player representative. Either the Chair or Secretary must also be in attendance.
The committee will elect the following annually in October:
Chair – to organise the meeting, arrange an agenda, ensure that the meeting runs to time and that all are able to participate. Be the main contact point and attendee of the Highbury Fields Tennis Development Group and will be the trusted spokesperson of the group. Current: Jill McLaughlin elected October 2018
Secretary / Deputy Chair- to take minutes and to distribute them. To co-ordinate and undertake on behalf of the committee any correspondence. Along with the Chair to be the contact and attendee at the Highbury Fields Tennis Development Group. Current: Nigel Billen elected October 2018 for a 6 month period whilst a replacement is found
Terms of Appointment.
To support the on-going sustainability of the group, to retain a fresh look and to limit reliance on 1 or 2 individuals the group will aim to spread the work around and where possible to change representatives on a periodic basis. However, given the nature of the group, a specific period of appointment is not currently a viable option.
Representing the HFTSG
In general, the Chair or Secretary will be the usual representatives of the HFTSG, however, ad hoc roles to represent the HFTSG at various groups and to undertake ad hoc activities will be agreed by the membership either at meetings or through email agreement. Where the HFTSG has agreed a consensus view, the representatives will undertake to communicate that. Where a matter has not been discussed, the representative(s) will seek the views of the group members before putting forward an opinion on behalf of HFTSG.
Highbury Fields Tennis Development Group:
The council have set up the Highbury Fields Tennis Development Group. This is attended by council officers for parks, sports and leisure and representatives of LTA and 2 representatives of Better. The HFTSG are invited to send up to 3 members – Chair, Secretary plus one other. The third place will be attended on a rolling basis as determined by the HFTSG.
October, January, April, July.