DOG poo left on tennis courts by “thoughtless owners” has led the council to start demanding deposits for using the facilities.

Incidents over Christmas reportedly saw families turn up to use the Birkenhead Park courts before abandoning their game due to muck found in various places.

In response, Wirral council has begun asking those wishing to use the courts for a returnable £5 deposit.

If a council Public Spaces Protection Order is approved by the council, the courts will be one of the locations where dogs will be banned from April onwards.

Ward councillor for Oxton, Allan Brame said: “It is sad that one or two thoughtless dog-owners are causing such inconvenience to families who simply want to use facilities provided by council tax-payers. Responsible dog-owners are rightly appalled by people who can’t be bothered to clean up after their dogs.”

Cllr Phillip Brightmore, cabinet member for leisure and recreation, said: “I fully support the action taken at Birkenhead Park in response to this recurring problem and the legitimate concerns of park users. Leaving behind dog mess is disgusting and it will not be tolerated.

“Having the tennis courts open and accessible was designed to encourage more people to take advantage of free use of the courts to play tennis. However, it would appear that some people are using the courts as enclosed space to exercise dogs and are inconsiderate enough to not pick up dog mess after they’re finished.

“This isn’t fair to those who want to use the courts for their correct purpose. Asking players to leave a fully-refundable key deposit is a reasonable, short-term solution to this issue and will allow park staff, the Friends group and other park users to consider a longer-term plan for managing the courts.”

According to Cllr Brame, the new system will mean users are asked to pay the returnable sum for a key to access the courts (which will otherwise remain locked), but can be collected from the visitor centre between 9am and 4pm.

The trial will run until the end of March, when lighter evenings will force the courts to remain open outside of the visitor services team’s operating hours.

The policy will then be rethought.