Skatepark verdict

Gildredge Park. Site of proposed skatepark on former tennis court now used for basketball
Gildredge Park. Site of proposed skatepark on former tennis court now used for basketball

CONTROVERSIAL plans to put a skatepark within Manor Gardens were given the go-ahead this week.

Six members of the council’s Cabinet committee each agreed to outline plans to convert the basketball court within the gardens next to Gildredge Park.

At a packed meeting at Eastbourne Town Hall on Wednesday night the Liberal Democrat councillors said the basketball court would be the favoured site for the skatepark because it would be away from nearby houses and would be screened by trees which would prevent noise echoing around the park.

They threw out plans to put the skatepark in Longland Recreation Ground in Old Town, Hartfield Square off the Avenue and other sites within Manor Gardens which were closer to the Manor House and Memorial Rose Garden.

A number of skaters attended the meeting and urged councillors to give the project the green light.

Cameron Brown said, “It is the perfect place for us,” and fellow skater Ollie Thomas said, “The basketball court would be ideal as it is sheltered, Longland Rec is just too open to the weather.”

Conservative councillors for Upperton ward, which Manor Gardens falls under, and opponents had argued Manor Gardens is renowned for its peace and tranquillity and was not the place for a skatepark.

Councillor Tom Liddiard said, “We are pro-youth and Eastbourne needs youth facilities but provided in the right place. It would be vandalism of the highest order to convert land within secluded Manor Gardens into a skatepark.”

He was backed by fellow Upperton Conservative Annabelle West who said the skatepark could be put on council land in Cross Levels Way, which is already a teen facility, is not close to houses, within easy reach and has good public transport links.

“Cross Levels Way is in the west of the town, conforms to county and borough council policies, identifies the needs for Old Town and Hampden Park as well as catering for the needs of the young people of Upperton and St Anthony’s,” she said.

Old Town councillor Carolyn Heaps led the campaign for the skatepark in Manor Gardens and said it was essential the council supported young people’s facilities.

“We should change our tune and realise that young people deserve better,” she said.

The committee approved the plans and a planning application is expected to be submitted within the next few weeks.