Tennis players have accused a council of “secrecy” in handing over control of courts to a national governing body in a bid to boost the sport’s popularity.

Brighton and Hove City Council has agreed to the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) taking over the running of its facilities in Preston Park, Brighton, on a trial basis this summer.

The local authority believes the pilot, which will be paid for by the LTA and mean people can book sessions online, will lead to an increase in participants.

But some tennis fans have questioned why the council did not put the decision to a vote and why there has been little information and no notice of a start date.

Nicholas Westcott, 27, who lives in the Brunswick area of Hove, said: “This will have an impact on a lot of users, particularly foreign students and elderly people who may not have access to the internet.

“There has been no publicity in the park about this. Why is the council being so secretive about it? It’s just bizarre.”

No date has been given for the start but Preston Park regulars believe it could begin as early as Monday.

The council said there will be no change to the cost of hiring a court, which is currently £7.30 per hour.

The trial will be reviewed at the end of summer and could be extended to other city courts.

A council spokesman added that the chairmen of the environment and the economic development committees agreed to the trial.

However, Labour councillor Warren Morgan said: “It would have been better for the Green councillors to have consulted tennis court users and indeed other councillors before deciding to hand over part of the council’s sports facilities to an outside body without any prior notice.”

Pete West, chairman of the council’s environment and sustainability committee, said: “The whole aim of the project is to encourage more people to play tennis and make the best possible use of the courts, and the LTA has been working on similar trials with other local authorities.

“The scheme will also include a programme of ‘open access’ tennis sessions at promotional prices to encourage more people to take up the sport.”