Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Great Skate Debate

Two rival campaigns are now up and running regarding the question of whether to have a Skate park facility in Telegraph Hill Park in New Cross. On the one hand there's the Skate Park Action Group (mentioned at Transpontine previously) who have been campaigning for a small concrete freefrom skate park in the area, and who believe that locating it in the Upper Park (also known as the dog park) may be the most feasible option. They have secured a promise of £47k funding, but with the condition that it must be spent by March 2011.

Now leaflets have been put out calling on people to 'Save the Upper Park of Telegraph Hill' arguing that locating the skate park there 'would permanently damage this wonderful green space'. Both sides are mobilising supporters to come to the Telegraph Hill Ward Local Assembly Meeting on Thursday 17th June, where the matter will be discussed (it takes place at the Haberdashers' Aske's Jerningham Road site at 7 pm).

For a flavour of the debate see the comments thread on this at Brockley Central (115 comments so far) and the Telegraph Hill Forum (130 comments and counting). Some of the anti-comment is really obnoxious - it is plain that some people would pretty much prefer young people to keep out of the park altogether and also to get off the streets while they're at it. But the discussions about where best to site a skate park are worth considering.

I am generally in favour of the skate park, and would support it going in the top park if nowhere else can be found. But I would also prefer it if it could be achieved without losing any green space, such as by concreting over any grass. There is quite a large tarmac area in the lower park, the main argument against it seems to be that the lower park is closed at night - so why not open it at night? A better option still would be use road space, such as by pedestrianising all or part of Kitto Road outside the church. The main objection to this seems to be that it would take time to achieve the relevant permissions, and therefore the funding would be lost.

Personally I think it's good that kids are playing in the streets, including skateboarding, so I don't entirely endorse the suggestion that a skate park is a good idea because it keeps children off the streets. Clearly though there are traffic and other dangers and it would be good to consider how to make the streets safer for children to play.


Anonymous said...

The problem with them on the streets in this instance, which stared the whole thing off was not so much the issue of safety (although I would hate to be a driver cannoned into by a skateboarding child with that child's death or injury unfairly on my conscience for ever afterwards) but the way there was a particular configuration of street and kerb that the kids were practising on for hours on end. This led to complaints and threats of ASBOs etc. etc. and the search for somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

We didn't get any leaflet back in February even though we live only a few houses from the top park. I think a skate park would be favouring a few people who would use the skatepark for a short period of their lives over the many people who treasure quietness, greeness and, at night, darkness, so rare in London. I think the issue of 'must get it done by 2011' is particularly insidious.