As the closing date for objections to the Manor Gardens skate park proposal arose, so did yet another change to the plans.
Now, the decision has been made, after consultation with the mayor’s group of boys, to make the base concrete, not tarmac.
It is truly shocking that the council is willing to consult with a few boys and ignore the wishes of the majority of residents of Upperton and Hampden Park.
It is even more shocking to realise that, although the final vote on the planning application hasn’t yet taken place, tenders for the work on the proposed skate park have already been sent out. A done deal indeed.
Perhaps this may explain why, over the past week and more, we have seen skateboarders trying to oust basketball players from the existing basketball courts.
No doubt these boys have been assured that what they want will prevail over the wishes of many hundreds of people, including, of course, all those who play basketball.
It is very hard to understand why the Lib Dem council is so eager to force an unwanted facility into the only peaceful gardens left in the older part of Eastbourne.
Is it because they only have a one-month extension for spending the remaining lottery money (although they’ve had well over a year in which to decide how and where to spend it)?
Do Eastbourne residents know how the rest of the money was spent? Ask the council. I suspect you will be surprised at what you hear. Then you can decide whether or not the council is capable of making sensible decisions about youth facilities.
Why is the council so determined to build this desired skate park in gardens (gardens are NOT parks) and destroy a loved and important place, quiet gardens used by people of all ages, rather than agree to the wishes of Hampden Park residents and build a much larger and more valuable skateboard/BMX facility at Cross Levels Way?
In every way, that is a more suitable location. It is open, it has the space to offer far more excitement to the youth who use it, and access for supervision.
Yet the council seems to think rejecting the wishes of Hampden Park and Upperton residents is perfectly acceptable, rather than that youth should have to travel a mile away from home (perhaps a little more).
Here, I lay no blame on the youth. It is the council that seems to have lost perspective. I suspect the situation is even more dangerous than this complete absence of democracy.
Why are Manor Gardens and Gildredge Park the only two open spaces of any size in Eastbourne not nominated for protected Green Fields status (and remember that when the nominations were made last year, Upperton ward was 2:1 Lib Dem to Tory)? We need to rectify this situation as soon as possible.
I had expected better from a Lib Dem council. I had hoped for at least an element of democratic process – where a large majority actually has more say than a tiny minority, especially when the minority can still gain what it wants: just not where they have been promised it, by a misguided councillor. Eastbourne is not such a large town that youth from the different areas can’t mix without murdering one another.
It is still possible to write to the council airing your views about this mistaken proposal. Read the letters on the council website and see that many are motivated for the protection of youth as well as preservation of a rare tranquil space. Please write. It is not a question of Manor Gardens OR the skate park. There can be both.
It rests with the council to accept this, and to listen to the general will.