Wednesday, 17 Apr 2024

Tennis player, 80, has to quit game because local sports centre won’t take cash

A fuming tennis player says she has been forced to give up on her 40-year hobby – because sports centres do not take cash.

Juliet Casciano, 80, wanted to get back on court after taking seven months of bed rest following a second hip replacement operation.

But when she turned up at council-run Marke Wood Recreation Ground, in Walmer, Kent, she found she needed to sign up online for courses and had to pay by card.

Frustrated Juliet then tried Tides Leisure Centre in Deal, Kent, where she was shocked to learn she also could not shell out for games in notes and coins.

Juliet now says her woes highlight a larger issue about how pensioners are being frozen out of activities and events as they cannot use cash or get online.

She said: “I have played for near on 40 years in Deal and now suddenly I cannot play anymore. The government promised us years ago that when the internet started they would give us an exit strategy for the older folk to be able to get on without the dreaded internet.

“I need to fight for cash to be kept alive. Cash is our society, it is our way of life and was our way of life for years and years. Pensioners need special attention and there must be a way that we can keep cash going.”

Julliet, from Deal, said she had thoroughly looked forward to her first round of tennis after undergoing hip replacement last year.

She initially went to Marke Wood Recreation Ground, where she had played in the past after seeing advertising for its “rusty rackets” rehabilitation programme.

But she then learned she couldn’t sign up in person and instead would need to use an online form with a bank card. And when Juliet approached Tides Leisure Centre, she discovered the private company had also given up on cash payments too.

She said: “There was a rusty rackets program for people like me who have hurt themselves and wanted to start again.

She said: “There was a rusty rackets program for people like me who have hurt themselves and wanted to start again.

“It was perfect, but the lady said it was all online and I needed an email address and to sign up via direct debit. I do not do any of those things – I am 80 years old.

“I have got hot cash in my pocket and I am longing to spend it. They won’t take a cheque – I know it is old fashioned but it is still good money – but it is not good enough. I get migraines when I go online and I find it so difficult.”

Julliet said she specifically favoured using cash as it helped her with her weekly budgeting.

She added: “I am not very rich, and I love living within my means, and with cash I can do that. When my cash is gone, I know I cannot spend anymore. [With bank cards] you have no idea what you have spent and I cannot afford to do it. I cannot even go to a restaurant because they want us to pay with a card.”

Julliet said she has now written to her local MP, Conservative Natalie Elphicke, expressing her concerns.

Julliet said she has now written to her local MP, Conservative Natalie Elphicke, expressing her concerns.

A spokesperson for Your Leisure, which runs Tides Leisure Centre, said they’d remained cashless after the pandemic where they’d noticed improvements, such as ending queues at peak times and advanced booking systems.

They added: “Our standard memberships have also required an email address and direct debit payments for some considerable time (about a decade) and allow us to contact customers should we need to in connection to their bookings or membership.

“Your Leisure monitors and periodically reviews all areas of its operation and factors in a wide range of feedback into its decision-making.

“We welcome all our customers to contact us directly to see where we can offer support on a one-to-one basis where feasible.”

Dover Council, which owns and runs Marke Wood Recreation Ground, has been approached for comment.

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