Row over Eastbourne skatepark plans

Park meeting between councillors and skaterboarders
Park meeting between councillors and skaterboarders

A ROW has broken out over plans to put a skatepark in Manor Gardens.

It was revealed earlier this month that Eastbourne’s mayor Carolyn Heaps is backing plans for facilities for skateboarders and scooter riders on one of the tennis courts in Manor Gardens, behind the cafe.

But Conservative councillors and people living nearby are demanding public consultation before anything is finalised.

Lottery funding for the youth facility will help pay for it but it needs to be allocated by the autumn or could be lost.

Those against the skatepark say Manor Gardens is a tranquil area with a memorial rose gardens and is not suitable for such a facility.

They also fear the skatepark will be too noisy and cause anti social behaviour.

Cllr Heaps, a Lib Dem councillor for Old Town, said this week she had been working on a potential site for three years and hoped people would support it.

“This would be an ideal site for a skatepark,” said the mayor. “It’s fairly open so people could see what is going on, far enough away from houses and there is lots of vegetation around to absorb any noise.

“It’s somewhere for the skaters to hone their skills. There is a need for a youth facility in the west of the town.

“At present we have young people skateboarding down the steps into Manor Gardens and near Waitrose which is very dangerous. Unfortunately doing nothing is not an option.”

The three Conservative councillors in Upperton say they have been asking to see the plans for the skatepark but been kept in the dark.

Annabelle West said, “There has been no consultation over this and that is not what politics is about. We feel this has been thrust upon us.”

The Conservative councillors are now appealing for residents to make their feelings on the skatepark known.

Cllr West said, “We need to know what people want. Our young people do need a skatepark but there has to be consultation over whether this is the right place for it.”

This week skaters met with the mayor and some councillors at the park and renewed their calls for a skatepark.

A further meeting is due to take place later this month between skaters and concerned residents before the council will consider it.

Cllr Neil Stanley, Lib Dem councillor for tourism and leisure at Eastbourne Borough Council, said, “We are aware of many hundreds of young people who, through social media, have confirmed their desire to one day have a skatepark in Gildredge Park.

“There are several old tennis courts in the Manor Gardens part of Gildredge Park. One of the courts is in need of extensive repairs and may provide a space suitable for a small skate park.

“The top end of the park already attracts groups of teenagers and some anti-social behaviour. It is hoped that these incidents would reduce significantly by having a structured facility.”