Keeping eye on skatepark budget

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AS THE new year begins, it seems a good time to update readers of the Herald on progress from the pro and the anti skate park groups.

Last year, the mayor and her more lowly adherents in council confirmed in Cabinet that they would support a skatepark in Manor Gardens, regardless of the loudly expressed and opposing views of local residents.

At that time, a budget of £85,000 - the theoretical remains of the lottery money - was allocated for the project.

Councillor Tutt assured all present that no public funds would be used for the project: it had to be self-supporting, or would not proceed.

Now we are at the stage where planning permission has been granted, but the original sum needs to stretch even further.

Part of the application was for a temporary road to access lorries, and part for a new wall to mask the anti-social noise/behaviour expected.

In addition, the cost of a survey produced to prove the noise impact had to be added. All three of these additions are extra costs not factored into the original £85,000 budget.

To rescue the mayor’s pet project, the council - or so we understand - under Councillor Tutt intends using Section 106 monies to disguise the fact that it was stated categorically that no public funds would be used.

Section 106 monies, for those who aren’t familiar with the term, are those appearing after intense negotiations between planning officers and developers.

They are to be used to provide facilities which the TOWN may need, but for which funding is not available.

The Section 106 pot is pretty empty at the moment, after the shortage of development projects in Eastbourne in recent years.

The question, therefore, is why such valuable funding should be used to support an un-viable and unsuitable project, benefiting very few people, opposed by many by reason of its location.

The Friends of Manor Gardens group is now waiting for the tenders for the work on the skate park to be received and to see the additional costs added by extra needs of the project.

We do not know how much is left of the £85,000, but would suggest it was easily less than £80,000, after planning fees, consultancy fees, and administration costs.

While the Friends of Manor Gardens and Gildredge Park is not an opposition group, many of us who are Friends are ready to continue trying to prevent this waste of money and the destruction of much loved facilities – that is Manor Gardens, and the basketball courts.

If anyone is interested, basketball playing produces the same positive social results on and for its participants as skateboarding, at much lower cost.

MARY CORRAN

Co chair of Friends of Manor Gardens and Gildredge Park