Friends hit back over skate park ‘misconception’

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

THE FRIENDS of Manor Gardens and Gildredge Park have spoken out about the council decision to give the controversial skate park the go-ahead.

The much-opposed skate park in Manor Gardens was approved by Eastbourne Borough Council’s planning meeting recently and while skaters are celebrating, residents are concerned about noise in the currently tranquil park.

Mary Corran, Park Close resident and chair of the Friends of Manor Gardens and Gildredge Park, said, “The atmosphere was such that it seemed we wicked Upperton Residents wanted to deprive these skating boys of something they wanted, and had even helped design.

“This was complete nonsense. No-one of either gender, or of any age, was against the idea of a new skate park, provided it was in the right place.”

Although noise is the main concern, Ms Corran says she is concerned that, because access to the park will be open to all, there will be anti-social behaviour.

She said, “We know that there will be kids who will make the gardens a no-go area for the present users – most of whom are very young or over forty.

“I have spoken to elderly people and young women who are frightened of this potential invasion of a quiet space.

“Even if all these ‘boys’ are sweetness and light, they can’t prevent an invasion from other kids who are not.”

The skate park being in a secluded area is also causing concern.

Ms Corran says she thinks the locations should be open with easy access for ambulances and other services.

She added, “Skate parks should be well overlooked to discourage any rowdy or drug dealing element.

“No-one suggested these particular boys were involved in either.

“However, in an open facility, it is extremely difficult to control access and use.”

Ms Corran also criticised the council’s planning committee.

“All the councillors, except Councillor Jenkins, on the committee simply said that boys must have what boys want,” she said.

“Youth must be served, and age has to give way to it. Numbers had nothing to do with it.

“The Lib Dem strategy had defined a lack of youth facilities in the west of Eastbourne, so tough luck to all of us.”