Skate park and centre battle to rumble on

Desborough Skate Park

Desborough Skate Park

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Community leaders left devastated by the decision to dismantle a leisure centre and skate park in Desborough have vowed to fight on.

Kettering Council’s executive committee voted on Wednesday, July 18, to knock down the Hawthorns Leisure Centre in Desborough, a controversial decision that was made despite half the town wanting it to remain open.

The council will now look to sell off the site to a developer for a housing estate.

This will include dismantling the skate park, months 
after youngsters worked through the winter to refurbish it with no local authority funding, and a grand re-opening in March.

Paula Holmes, secretary of Desborough Community Development Trust, which launched an unsuccessful bid to take over the running of the leisure centre last year, has said it is exploring options through the Localism Bill.

She said: “It’s another piece of Desborough’s heart they are dismantling.

“It feels personal. We’re being asset-stripped.”

The centre was closed in May after the council opened a £1.6m leisure centre off Ironwood Avenue.

The council is also due to serve notice on the skate park operators, Desborough Youth Action Group (DYAG), and is likely to tell the group to quit the site by summer 2013.

The council leased the land to the group, but this expired in 2007.

Group chairman Belinda Humfrey said: “It’s incomprehensible. The boys are absolutely shattered but we will fight on.”

The council has pledged to help the skaters find a new park in the town.

Cllr Alison Wiley said: “It’s a decision that was taken in principle a while ago. We need to maximise our assets for the benefit of the entire borough.”