Cabinet to rule on venue for new skatepark

Proposed Skatepark in Gildredge Parkmeeting between councillors and skaterboarders. Local councillors and the mayor listen to the skateboarders
Proposed Skatepark in Gildredge Parkmeeting between councillors and skaterboarders. Local councillors and the mayor listen to the skateboarders

THE CONTROVERSY over a skatepark being built in Manor Gardens will reach a climax next week when councillors will either give it the green light or throw the plan out.

The council’s cabinet committee will meet on Wednesday night to decide whether to build it in Manor Gardens or alternative sites in Longland Rec in Old Town or Hartfield Square Park, just off The Avenue.

It is likely to be a long meeting with both opponents of the skatepark and young people who have campaigned for it giving their views to councillors.

In a report due to go before the committee, tourism boss Tracey McNulty says £85,000 in Lottery cash must be spent by the end of October on developing a facility for teenagers in the west of Eastbourne otherwise the money will be lost.

Three options have been earmarked – converting either tennis courts or the basketball court within Manor Gardens, converting two tennis courts in Longland Rec or putting a facility in to Hartfield Square Park.

All three however have proved to be unpopular and councillors are facing a tough decision as to which to approve.

A major campaign has been mounted against the skate park in Manor Gardens and residents living near to Longland Rec and Hartfield Square Park say it would be too close to their homes.

But Mrs McNulty says in the report that the Manor Gardens sites would be more accessible for young people from Upperton, Old Town, Meads and Devonshire wards.

She said, “It has been identified through consultation that there is a need to develop facilities for teenagers across Eastbourne and in particular there is a shortage of teen facilities in the west of Eastbourne.

“There is huge support from local young people for a skatepark to be developed within Gildredge Park – 600 young people are members of a Face- book page Give-us-a-skate-park-in-Gilly – and there are existing hard surfaces, meaning more of the money can be spent on skate ramps.

“It is essential that young people have the facilities that contribute to their quality of life, within easy reach of their neighbourhood.

“Providing a teen facility will give young people the opportunity to participate in positive activities and may help to reduce anti-social behaviour.”

The cabinet meeting is at Eastbourne Town Hall on September 7 at 6pm.