Desborough skate park likely to be shut down

The park's re-opening in March
The park's re-opening in March

The fate of a popular skate park that was brought back into use after a huge community effort hangs in the balance, with a council looking likely to dismantle it.

Less than four months after Desborough Skate Park’s grand re-opening after a group of volunteers worked for weeks to refurbish it with no council funding, Kettering Council will debate its future on Wednesday night.

The park is located on the site of the Hawthorns Leisure Centre, which was recently closed down as the council has built a new centre off Ironwood Avenue.

Now the council has earmarked the site for housing.

Officers have recommended that the council’s Executive Committee take the decision to issue a notice to skate park operators Desborough Youth Action Group, telling them to quit the site.

The council own the land but leased the site to the group, but this lease ran out a number of years ago.

Councillor Alison Wiley, portfolio holder for asset management at Kettering Council, said: “We won’t simply be chucking them off the land.

“We will work with them to find other potentially suitable sites in the area - it won’t be a case of evicting them if we do pass the recommendation to serve a notice.

“We don’t want skaters to stop skating because we recognise the importance of having somewhere to skate for the youths.

“We recognise the effort a lot of young skaters put into getting that park going again.”

“But we own the land, and we’ve leased it out to them. That expired a number of years ago and they haven’t paid us in two years. They’re holding over on the lease.

“The Hawthorns site is classed as an asset and we need to maximise this.”

The park was built in 1999 following a lottery windfall, but by October last year, it had fallen into disrepair.

Kettering Council closed the site but community groups and skaters took it upon themselves to get the park up and running again, with 20 to 30 volunteers working each week to refurbish it.

It was re-opened with a massive community day on Saturday, March 24, and has remained popular since.

Naj Mistry, from Northamptonshire Association of Youth Clubs, helped out with the refurbishment work at the park.

He said: “The council need to consider what they can do now to ensure that the young people, who have what they consider a home, will have another site they can go to.

“We’re extremely disappointed. It’s a separate entity to the leisure centre, and they built a replacement for that, so why not for the skate park?

“I would want to see them consulting with Desborough Youth Action Group and the skaters to find a new place.

“It’s disappointing that this has come after the refurbishment, but at least that meant the skaters got months of use out of it.”

A decision will be made on whether to tell the operators to quit the site on Wednesday, July 18.

Are you a skater who uses the park? Let you know what you think by commenting below or emailing ian.burbidge@northantsnews.co.uk.