Where was the consultation

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THE first many local residents heard of the council’s proposal to put a skatepark in Manor Gardens was through Mr Loxley-Harding’s letter and the news item in the Herald earlier this month.

On Saturday a leaflet from Conservative members of the council arrived inviting us to tick boxes indicating whether we think the proposal a good idea or not. This is the time of year when many go away on holiday so the short notice may mean quite a few will not be around to give their opinion before the Cabinet meeting in September.

Walking through beautiful Manor Gardens recently, I saw a team from Eastbourne Parks and Gardens, one holding a clipboard, conversing in the tennis court next to the rose garden. I asked what they were doing. To my astonishment they told me they were working out the costs of construction of the council-proposed skatepark so that should a committee approve the plans in September, work can begin immediately.

This leads, not unreasonably I feel, to me wondering if the decision has already been made and the reason for the council choosing this site rather than another or even the bottom end of Gildredge Park is the tennis courts are already concreted over and the lottery money received must be spent by October or handed back.

Young people do want a skateboard park and should have one but other resident’s wishes are equally important and should be respected too.

Manor Gardens is a space for quiet enjoyment which is much appreciated by local residents and those from other areas who visit it. I don’t want a skatepark there and I hope other residents will convey their views, whatever they are, to the council.

As far as I know, the parents with toddlers and very small children using the play area in front of the proposed site have not been consulted.

One reason for choosing the site put forward by Councillor Neil Stanley is the hope incidents of anti-social behaviour in Gildredge Park and Manor Gardens will significantly reduce if there is a structured facility in what he calls the top end.

It may also add to it. Unless continually monitored by responsible users, skateboard parks are inclined to be taken over by teenagers more interested in indulging in anti-social behaviour than in skateboarding.

Anti-social behaviour in Gildredge Park and Manor Gardens takes place mainly in the evening and at night.

Councillor Annabelle West tells me the suggestion is the skatepark be closed when the gates to Manor Gardens are locked in the evening. Access to Manor Gardens is easily attained though other areas of Gildredge Park and keen young skateboarders would not easily be deterred. A great deal of drinking and drug taking goes on in the both places in the evening and that area is not overlooked by any house. The placement of this site is cause for concern.

Charlotte Stevens

Church Street, Eastbourne