The owner of a Kettering skate shop says the council’s decision to ban skateboarders from parts of the town under the new Public Space Protection Order is “absolutely ridiculous”.
Kettering Council’s executive committee decided to prohibit skaters from Morrisons car park, the pedestrian zone within the town centre, the Market Place and library steps at a meeting on Wednesday (December 9).
They are the first authority in the country to ban skateboarders under the new PSPO law.
If caught skateboarding in a prohibited zone offenders will initially be warned and then fined, which will remain on their criminal record for five years.
But Mark Healy, who owns the Chopper Skate Shop in Montagu Street, says it’s a double-edged sword.
He said: “If the council fine lots of people they’ll say it was necessary, and if they don’t then they’ll say the order is working.
“We can’t win really, it’s absolutely ridiculous.
“We had a petition against the proposal which got more than 3,000 signatures and 75 per cent of those who commented during the consultation period were in favour of our views.
“It seems like they just didn’t want to listen even though we thought they might – we were promised meetings to make a compromise but they never happened.
“Young people move around a lot so what happens if they don’t know they’ve even got a fine?
“Employers will see ‘criminal record’ on job applications but won’t ask what it is and immediately look elsewhere, all because someone has been skateboarding.”
A report heard at the council meeting stated that there were concerns raised over safety and noise because of the skateboarders.
Members agreed to enhancements to the current Ise Park skating facilities, including longer opening hours, lighting and shelter.
But Mr Healy says he’s not holding out too much hope.
He added: “In an ideal world they’d forget the ban altogether but that won’t happen.
“The council keep going on about complaints but they’ve received six in seven years, far less than other issues.
“The skate park shuts at 4.30pm in the winter and 8pm in the summer so many who go to school or work get virtually no skating time, it’s only a facility if it’s open.
“Promises have been made about lights and longer opening hours but in reality there will be residents nearby who will kick off if there are plans to do so and then we’ll be stuffed.
“We’re just skaters who want to skate and are out to have fun but we’ll be back to square one.
“All we can say to skateboarders out there who are worried about this is to be sensible.”