Revealed: How Merton Council works behind the scenes to keep Wimbledon Tennis Championships running smoothly

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club? Here we unveil the secrets of keeping the Championships running smoothly, whether it is Merton Council’s leisure team managing 600 cars a day in Wimbledon Park car park or the Trading Standards team checking your Pimm’s and strawberries.

We have profiled some of Merton Council’s staff and contractors who help to keep the borough moving.

Neil Milligan
Building and Development Control Manager

Neil is the man in charge of the lights on Centre Court after 11pm. Back in 2012 at 10.59pm Andy Murray was still playing in a nail biting match on Centre Court, televised on the BBC and being watched by millions. Rumours that the council would turn off the lights at 11pm sharp, ending play, fired up on social media. Meanwhile, Neil was already on the phone to Wimbledon’s chief executive Richard Lewis granting permission to extend play if necessary, and a tweet shortly after to say the council says the match can carry on, resulted in an outpouring of relief from fans on Twitter. Luckily the match ended at 11.01pm.

Centre Court Picture: AELTC/Chris Raphael

Centre Court, above. Picture: AELTC/Chris Raphael

Jim Rogers
Business and Customer Services Manager

Have you ever been to Wimbledon and wondered why it’s so easy to drive around during the Championships? It’s all thanks to the careful planning of our parking, leisure and highways teams.

The leisure team manage 600 cars a day parking in Wimbledon Park and help to organise an incredibly popular park and ride service for tennis staff and visitors. The parking team help residents to park outside their houses while restrictions are in place and control the traffic movement in the area. They remove vehicles which break the rules. The council even looks out for animals left in cars while their owners are courtside. It all helps to keep the borough moving.

Andrew Bradley
Environmental Health (Commercial) Manager

You may not notice Andrew Bradley and his team of six food safety officers who work all year round to ensure people can enjoy their strawberries and cream and glasses of Pimm’s safely.

AELTC/David Levenson

Picture: AELTC/David Levenson

They carry out samples on a dizzying array of food, from sandwiches to burgers and chips to sushi, said to be Andy Murray’s favourite. They send ice and other items to laboratories for testing, check the temperatures of cooked food, and monitor staff. They will be there behind the scenes throughout the tournament, making sure everyone stays safe.

They work in partnership with the All England Lawn Tennis Club and Public Health England to ensure tennis goers have fun and do not go home with more than they bargained for.

John Hillarby
Trading Standards Manager

If you’re planning to treat yourself to any Wimbledon merchandise as a memento of your trip during the fortnight, John and his team will be making sure anything you buy outside and inside of the tournament is licensed.

Working with the police, they crack down fake goods sellers and warn – if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. They also make sure you are not being ripped off- whether that is being over-charged for drinks or getting less than you thought in your glass. If you think you have been sold counterfeit goods, or if you suspect somebody is selling fake goods, call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

Stan Parker

It might sound like a load of old rubbish, but Veolia, the council’s waste management contractor, will spend 12 hours a day, every day of the Championship fortnight cleaning up after thousands of tennis fans.

Up to 7,000 people a day will queue in Wimbledon Park, with thousands of them pitching tents in a bid to get sought-after tickets. The council puts out between 2,000 and 3,000 bags along the queue line, both for recycling and waste, then empty them when they’re full. Over the fortnight the team will collect up to 16 tonnes of rubbish – that’s the weight of more than four Centre Court roofs (both fixed and moving) combined.

Two tankers manned by four people will empty the portable toilets across five sites as well. They can clear up to 10,000 litres a day.