Fate of well-used skate park hangs in balance

Kettering Grantown Close Skate Park:'14/02/12
Kettering Grantown Close Skate Park:'14/02/12
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The fate of an ageing skate park used by up to 100 young people a day will be decided tonight.

Kettering Council will decide whether to keep, scrap or replace Ise Skate Park in Grantown Close, whose wooden ramps are rotting.

Matt Clarke, 22, of Kettering, who is one of up to 100 young people who ride skateboards, BMXs, scooters and in-line skates on the park each day, said: “If they get rid of it they are going to have a lot more problems on their hands.

“People are just going to skate on the street.”

In a door-to-door consultation of 119 nearby households, eight out of 10 people said the council should repair or replace the ramps and nine out of 10 people said it should improve facilities for young people.

But renewing the park, which cost £30,000 to build in 2002 and had £53,000 of noise-reduction work in 2004, would cost between £50,000 and £80,000 and the council admits no funding has been allocated.

In a report for the meeting, Valerie Hitchman, head of community services for the council, said the cost of a new skate park in a different place would probably be more expensive and planning approval would take 18 months.

She said £30,000 a developer had paid towards community facilities as a condition of planning permission could go towards renewing the park, but that would have to be spent by July 2.

Decommissioning the park would cost £6,000.

The police say the skate park gives young people a legitimate place to skate away from the town centre and socialise in a safe environment. They have requested its opening hours be extended from 8.30pm during the summer.

The police have had 10 complaints about the use of the facility in the past year, all from the same person.

Steve Bellamy, the Kettering councillor responsible for leisure provision, said one of the concerns was the ongoing maintenance costs of the wooden ramps.

Cllr Bellamy, 39, who grew up in the area and as a youth rode his BMX with the person who built the park, said: “There is not much in a lot of towns, including Kettering, for 12 to 18-year-olds to do.

“Leisure provision is absolutely essential.”

He said he believed there was a need for a skate park, but it was essential that it was in the best place.

In her report, Mrs Hitchman said: “In the past other central locations for a skate park have been considered but no ideal site owned by the borough council has been identified.”

Cllr Bellamy is also ward councillor for the area and visited it yesterday to talk to the skaters. He said: “It’s in a severe state of dilapidation. It’s rotten all along the bottom.”

He suggested concrete equipment might reduce maintenance costs.

The meeting at the council offices in Bowling Green Road will start at 7pm.