I have read about the proposed skate park in Manor Gardens in the Eastbourne Herald and also received a leaflet over the weekend from persons unknown about the advantages of the proposed park (I assume from some skaters).
I have no objection to a skate park but I do feel very strongly that to locate it in Manor Gardens at the site proposed (removing two tennis courts and the adjacent rose garden) is not appropriate.
While there are tennis courts and a couple of basketball courts located within this area the overall ambience is one of peace and calm.
The deterioration of the gardens from their former splendour has been a great shame, but they have managed to cling on to a degree of quiet and beauty. I cannot think of any other park within Eastbourne that has this kind of area.
I have seen reports that the tennis courts that are proposed to be removed are not used. I can assure you as a regular visitor that they are used very frequently. The use may not show up in booking sheets, but casual users are certainly there.
Why further erode the calm that exists when there are plenty of other places that could accommodate the skate park?
The refurbishment of the tennis courts at the southern end of the park has been a great success. This is located in an area where the public are encouraged to play ‘en masse’. Football, stoolball, volleyball, etc is enjoyed on a regular basis.
The area immediately adjacent to the refurbished tennis courts is an ideal place to locate the new skate park. At present it is hardly used, but mostly functions as a cut through path.
There is no need to destroy the beauty and calm of Manor Gardens and the addition of a skating facility here would almost go unnoticed. The proximity of the skate park to the existing cafe at the tennis courts is an additional benefit.
Locating the skate park in this area would also make it far more visible. There are clearly concerns that a skate park will attract drug dealers, graffiti artists and other undesirables.
Locating it in Manor Gardens in a ‘hidden’ area is far more likely to result in attracting these types than if the park is in an area frequented by members of the public at all times, with open lines of sight.
While on the subject of youth I would like to make a further suggestion: The condition of the old Towner Art Gallery is clearly a disgrace. Why not use the money that is now available for a youth facility and buy back the old Towner (it can be had for a fraction of the price it was sold for).
The basement could be used as a great youth club (which is sorely needed), the ground floor for a restaurant and/or wedding venue, and the upper floor for community projects, or a creche, etc. These uses could contribute to the upkeep.
By using the available cash to create a youth club you will be benefiting a far wider group of young people than the few that will use a skate park. Selling the old Towner was a huge mistake. It is not too late to rectify that mistake and create a facility that will make Eastbourne proud.
Eastbourne seems to have lost its way over the years. Rather than improve the conditions in which we live we seem to be slowly deteriorating.
Apart from the seafront area, which retains its splendour, the rest of the town seems to be ever slipping into decay. It’s time to re-inject some pride in our town.