Battle lines drawn over Eastbourne skatepark

AS THE row over plans to build a skatepark in Manor Gardens deepened this week, two meetings have been planned about the issue.

The first is being held by Conservative councillors, opponents of the plans, and is at Eastbourne Town Hall tomorrow morning (Saturday) from 10am-11am.

The second is on Sunday (August 21) on the tennis courts in Manor Gardens at 5pm and is a skate demonstration followed by a meeting with the public.

No firm plans have been drawn up yet but courts within the tranquil gardens have been earmarked as a potential site for a skatepark for young people and a decision will be taken next month.

Tory councillors for the Upperton ward say the gardens are the wrong place for the skatepark and a survey has shown people are unanimous in opposing it.

Councillor Tom Liddiard said, “Our gut feeling was that this is the wrong idea, in the wrong place, at the wrong time – but we wanted to find out exactly what local people felt.

“Our survey was almost unanimous in opposing the skatepark the Lib Dem-run council wants to force upon those living near Gildredge Park and Manor Gardens without consultation.

“It is outrageous the council is pushing this through without hardly mentioning it to people who live in the area and will be directly affected by it.

“We are all in favour of improved facilities for young people, but the council should be open and honest about its intentions and that’s why we are calling for a proper public consultation.

“The council has had months to consider this and there are better sites that should be considered and we are insisting these be investigated. There is outrage at the undemocratic way this is being forced through.”

Eastbourne’s mayor Carolyn Heaps has been spearheading the campaign for a skatepark and said she still believes the tennis courts within the gardens are the best place and denied there was anything undemocratic going on.

“We are not hiding anything from anybody,” she said.

“If we don’t provide young people with positive things they will start to look for negative ways to spend their time.

“This is a great bunch of skaters who want to use the area to hone their skills.

“They are circulating a leaflet to homes in the area and want to allay the fears of residents.”

Eastbourne Borough Council denied claims it had been sitting on the Lottery funding.

A council spokesperson said, of the £205,000, money has already been spent on a play ranger and the playground in Sevenoaks Road had been refurbished.

The spokesperson said, “The third project is to use the remaining £85,000 of Lottery funding to develop a teen facility in the west of the town for which a need was identified following extensive consultation with teenagers.

“A number of facilities aimed at teenagers at a range of locations will be discussed by the council’s cabinet on September 7 and, once a preferred option has been identified, further consultation will then take place.

“We are fully aware of the deadline for allocating the Lottery funds and will be deciding which option to take forward in September.

“We must, however, ensure through robust consultation that the final option best meets the needs of young people in the west of Eastbourne and that any impact to the local environment is properly assessed.”