Friday, 22 November 2013

Bar Hill Skate Park ... End of an Era

Unfortunately some very bad news from the Parish Council meeting last night; Bar Hill Skate Park is to be closed and will be demolished within the next few weeks.

Exterior Damage
The primary reason for this has to be the current state of the park (see some recent photos here). Each of the ramps has suffered significant damage to the surface that has made it uneconomic to repair. People have forced their way inside the ramps and structures on the park and the Fire Service has raised safely concerns in relation to litter, including aerosols, within these confined spaces. The police have also raised concerns about illegal activity on the park itself due in part to it's secluded location. The Parish Council was already planning on removing the screening trees based on previous advice from the police - another £2-8K expense - but this will probably be no longer be necessary, at least in the short term.

At the same meeting the Council overwhelming voted in favour of there being a Skate Park in Bar Hill and it was the expressed hope that Footpaths (a local group setup specifically to fundraise for a new Skate Park) will be able to facilitate this. For this reason I, and Cllr Anthony Mitchell agreed to work closely with Footpaths to help in any way we can to make a new skate park happen as soon as possible, although this is unlikely to be until the tail end of 2014 at the earliest.

Inside One of the Ramps
It's very disappointing that the Skate Park has degenerated into such a state that it can't be fixed up, but looking at the amount of work that would need doing and the cost of materials alone it is clear that this would take thousands if not tens of thousands, and - even after all that money had been spent - we'd also certainly find ourselves back here in a few years having the same discussion again due to the fact that it's a wooden structure and it's out in the elements. There's a reason new skate parks are build from concrete or metal, no-one is using wood anymore.

So here we are. I think it's safe to say a number of Councillors, including myself, were gutted at having to take this decision. Two young people came to the meeting to talk to us about how important the skate park is to them but when it came to the crunch the risk of injury due to the damage, the concerns expressed by the Police and Fire Service, and lack of money just
Dangerous Holes on the Ramps
didn't make it viable to continue as we have been for the last few years. Give the concerns expressed (these were in writing) and worries about liability if we didn't act and someone was injured the decision to close and remove the park had the support of the huge majority of Councillors - including, reluctantly, me.

As part of my preparation for the meeting last night I contacted a UK-based company that builds Skate Parks and the cost of a semi-decent park would be around £40K (+VAT, but the Parish Council can claim the VAT back) this includes the installation but we would have to prepare the ground (i.e. a proper foundation, and tarmac surface) let's call that £20K (because we also should look at replacing the existing lighting with "low energy"- to reduce running costs) so we're talking about £60K to give us a Skate Park. That's equivalent to £20 on the precept for one year - or £10 for two years - £5 for 4 years, etc (the longer the term the larger the interest on the loan we'd be paying).

I'm hoping to get some allocated funding for the park at our next budget meeting but the real question is; what are your views? Please complete this survey and I'll pass the results on to the Parish Council in December and I'll post a summary of responses on this blog;

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1QjApt4OI44Qus734L2HITxrwMm_uS5USnx5p4Yj5tQk/viewform

Any questions, comments, or concerns please drop me an email; andy.pellew@gmail.com.

Cllr Andy Pellew
Bar Hill Parish Council