For a number of years Skaters/Scooter and BMX enthusiasts have raised their concerns for the need for a new Skate Park in Ely.
A group of the enthusiasts have entered in discussion with East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC) and the City of Ely Council in relation to this issue and a suggested site within the Country Park has been identified. This group of enthusiasts have called themselves Riding and Skating in Ely (R.A.S.E) and are gaining more and more support, from other enthusiasts and members of the community.
The group intend to obtain grant funding to build the park and will be looking at approaching sports funders, such as Sport England, Sported and the National Lottery once the consultation period has taken place. Stan Hickish, Chairman of the Group states “It’s early days but I see huge potential in this Committee. We’re gaining traction every day and will be working really hard, with the help of our brilliant Councillors, to bring an outstanding park to Ely, for all riders and skaters. With skateboarding becoming an Olympic sport in 2020, the skate park that R.A.S.E are looking to bring to Ely will allow for increasing numbers of people of all ages and abilities to have a proper space to ride other than the streets and cul-de-sacs they have now. The R.A.S.E committee will be actively encouraging correct park etiquette and respect through use of their online presence and have made it their mission to be as inclusive of a group as possible”
District Councillor, Andy Pearson said, “I will be giving this project my support. The nearest facility we have like this is Cambridge, whilst I am fully aware that we have an existing skate park, it is not fit for purpose, there is still a recognised need for a larger more user-friendly park. Many people are under the misconception that skate parks are for rowdy youths who are out of control, or for a limited audience, however my personal experience is that the older youths help and support the younger children. The skate park that R.A.S.E are looking to bring to Ely, will allow for all ages and abilities to use and will also be disabled friendly. He further stated “I am always amazed how many younger children ride their scooters to school, this park will cater for them also. I have witnessed in other towns older youths teaching the younger people new skills, and making sure they understand how to ride safely”
The group have held several meetings which have included representatives from ECDC and City of Ely Council. They have met with Ely Police to seek advice about the project. A site meeting has taken place with Maverick Industries, who specialise in design and installation of skateparks in the UK, regarding the lands suitability for this style of park. Also involved is Volker Fitzpatrick, the leading UK engineering and construction business who is constructing our new Southern Bypass. In order to support the community they are working within, Volker Fitzpatrick will be assisting with voluntary advice on civil engineering, environmental
issues, planning and drainage.
The Mayor of Ely, Councillor Richard Hobbs, said “I wholeheartedly support this project, the young people are so passionate and enthusiastic, I really hope they can make this build happen, as it will be a great asset to the young and teenage community of Ely and the surrounding villages”.
Jo Pearson, local business owner and resident of Ely said “I was approached by the youths to be a committee member. I think it’s what Ely needs and I look forward to working with everyone on the project.”
The group intend to hold a consultation period in early 2018, when people will be invited to come along and put forward their comments and opinions. If you would like further information on the group and the progress of the project, please join their Facebook page, Riding and Skating in Ely (R.A.S.E.). If you would like a copy of the Draft Delivery Plan and the provisional outline of the design, please contact the Committee via email at email@example.com
ISSUES AND ANSWERS
There will be no shortage of reasons why people will think a new skatepark is a bad idea for the Community. Some of the concerns will be negotiable and matters of small consequence that the advocate can address or negotiate with those voicing the opposition. Other negative voices will seek to prevent the skatepark of any size or design to be created anywhere in the area. Following are some of the most common concerns that surface in meetings and some effective responses. Each individual and group within our Community has a reason to support the new skatepark.
“Skateboarding promotes the wrong kind of lifestyle to our youth”
Skateboarding is a popular recreational choice. Over 13 million kids are skateboarders and it continues to get more popular every year. Skateboarding is as diverse as any other athletic hobby. Parents do it, kids do it (where they have a skatepark, parents and kids skate together) and kids of all ethnic and economic backgrounds skate. Ely’s skatepark will also be suitable for disabled children and adults to partake in the sport of skateboarding. During 2020, skateboarding will be recognised as an Olympic sport.
“Skateboarding presents too much liability”
Like many other athletic activities, skateboarding has its risks. However, the safest place to engage in this popular activity is at a facility specifically designed for it, and away from traffic and private property. When skateboarding injuries occur, it’s usually by someone who has been skating less than a week and about half of those accidents are attributed to “uneven surfaces”. Compared to other popular sports like football and basketball, skateboarding has far fewer annual injuries per thousand participants (Basketball – 224; Football – 91; Rugby – 78; Skateboarding – 20; according to the Centre for Public Health)
“We haven’t been properly informed about the skatepark”
A consultation will take place for all members of the public to attend. The consultation will include design representations, location plans and will have District and City Councillors, as well as members of R.A.S.E. available to answer any questions.
“A Skatepark is wrong for this park”
R.A.S.E. identified this site as a suitable site because of its proximity to the town centre. R.A.S.E. also felt it would be ideal as the Country Park currently has equipment for younger children and beautiful nature walks for families and people of all ages. The group considered a number of locations, but this site scored highly on issues such as visibility, pedestrian activity, proximity to residential neighbourhoods, existing park activities, access to public transit and several other matters.
“The skatepark will ruin the environment of the Country Park”
When the design is created it will ensure that the environment is taken into account. R.A.S.E will work with the skate developers to create a park that is sensitive to the environment. Other parks have been designed in particularly sensitive areas, and have been welcomed.
“The skatepark will attract litter and become an eyesore”
It is true that skateparks can sometimes become messy. The average age of skateboarders is 14, and picking up after oneself is not generally a high priority. We understand that extra measures must be taken to ensure that the skatepark is kept as tidy as possible by installed plenty of bins. It is also anticipated that because the younger Community have worked on this project, they will feel responsible for ensuring it is kept tidy and useable and will respect the area, ensuring it is kept nice.
“A Skatepark will be too loud”
Several skatepark sound studies have been conducted. One study showed that a 10,000 square foot skate park emitted less constant noise than light automobile traffic. School playgrounds and football games are typically louder.
“People will come from all over”
We are advocating a skatepark that will attract an audience and bring people to our beautiful Cathedral City of Ely. The skatepark will attract a majority of young people who are not able to drive and will be relying on public transport. The designated area is within easy walking distance of the rail station and the town centre.
“Skateparks promote anti-social behaviour”
Skate parks not only provide a venue for leisure and physical activity, but can also act as an important social space for young people (Jones, 2011). However, skate parks are often subjected to negative community stereotyping (Goldenberg & Shooter, 2009; Bradley, 2010; Weston, 2010, Taylor & Khan, 2011), however there has been a lack of empirical evidence to date to refute or
support conjecture about the presence of anti- or pro-social behaviours. The skatepark will also be covered by Ely’s CCTV Camera system.
“Skateparks are expensive”
It is anticipated that the skatepark will cost in the region of £150k, as it is a community led project it will be funded via grant applications to various independent bodies.