Skatepark facility fell into decay

HERALD Opinion’s expression of alarm about the proposal to place a skatepark in Manor Gardens is to be applauded.

Having read both the report on the proposal, and Michael Loxley-Harding’s letter, I endorse the concerns and opposition that have been expressed.

Prior to my retirement as an Upperton Ward councillor in May this year, I heard whispers about such a proposal and immediately sought further information.

However, despite repeated requests to different officers, all I received were bland generalised responses about policy.

No doubt the pending election may have had some effect on what the controlling Liberal Democrats wanted made known at that time! Now the elections are over, the truth is out.

There is no denying we need additional facilities for young people, not only for teenagers but also play areas for those much younger.

However, given the older profile of Upperton Ward compared to that of Old Town, surely facilities for teenagers should be placed within easy reach of the area where the highest numbers live?

It would appear Old Town residents have already said no to the proposal and now Upperton residents are in the firing line.

Anti-social behaviour has been an ongoing serious problem in Manor Gardens, with the vandalism of the Old Towner building - The Manor House - a very good example.

Police are regularly called to the area because of late-night teenage drinking in the park and reports of damage to both mature shrubbery and park furniture. To place such a facility in that locality can only make the problem worse.

A skatepark facility in the town that was very popular was the one on Cross Levels Way, which functioned perfectly well for a significant number of years.

However, the equipment was made of wood and eventually failed and was removed. Council promises of replacement have not been honoured and the site has been allowed to fall into decay.

What a pity the Liberal Democrats should now seek to impose their own intentions on local people in a residential area, rather than maintain original facilities and provide better value for money.

I hope all residents living in the vicinity of Manor Gardens and Gildredge Park will be given a genuine opportunity to express their views on the proposal, and that the controlling group does not depend on feedback from internet social networks which can be unreliable, is often manipulated, and predominantly the preserve of the young, to justify their decision-making.

Graham Marsden

Wish Hill