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Bored skaters prefer streets

A COUNCIL-run skatepark, which cost almost £200,000 to build, has been snubbed by youngsters who prefer to skate in the streets.

Rushmoor Council opened the skatepark next to the Farnborough Recreation Centre last December and hoped it would be a meeting place for teenagers, who had previously skated in public places.

The skatepark is seen as a safe place where youngsters can meet and is monitored by CCTV cameras.

But this week the council has admitted that youngsters prefer to skate in car parks and pavements rather than use the specially designed skatepark.

Urban skating is the latest craze to hit the town, with teenagers targeting the underground Pinehurst car park, known on the scene as the ‘UG’.

Simon Venn, youth project officer for the council, who works closely with local skateboarders, said that the popularity of skateboarding has greatly increased since Christmas.

“The skatepark is a different ball game to the street skating in the urban settings, and it is a problem that is taking over a lot of other local councils.

“Our trouble is that we get people coming to the skatepark from outside the borough and they don’t know the rules that we have here.

“The problem we have is telling them that this is not acceptable behaviour.”

The youngsters are also targeting Queensmead by skating along concrete benches and structures, often without protective clothing, leading local councillors to fear for their safety.

Cllr Maurice Banner raised the issue at a council meeting on Monday, arguing that they already had a skatepark, which skateboarders should be using rather than gathering on the streets.

He said: “We have had skateboarding on these premises (council offices) and they have been skating and hanging around in Queensmead.

“We went to the trouble of providing them with a skatepark and they’re not taking any notice.

“Notices should be put up in Queensmead and these car parks — this needs to be cut out. If they fall they could seriously hurt themselves.”

Cllr Paul Taylor added: “It is a shame that we have spent a lot of money on the park and it’s not all that they want.

“Kids are always going to want more danger, more excitement, so we won’t escape the problem completely — they’re young people.”

Farnborough skatepark, which is next to the recreation centre, was officially opened at the end of November as a desperately needed facility for young people.

Members of the local skate association Regiment 36 helped design the park and declared it a huge success at the opening.

After two years in development, it is seen as a safe and dedicated area for skateboarders and BMX riders to practice their sports.

“The skatepark is still very, very well used,” insisted Peter Aimes, head of leisure services at Rushmoor Borough Council.

“The majority of people there are hardcore skaters and are settling down nicely.”

However, he admitted that there had been antisocial problems there in the past with ‘unwarranted’ activities, although police had arrested a number of people and installed CCTV to deter criminal behaviour.

Sgt Jon Turton at Farnborough police said: “We did have a few problems with the design of the park — it wasn’t brilliant.

“People were able to shelter underneath the half pipes, hiding from passers-by and cameras, but this has been sorted out now.

“Fencing has been put up to section off the area so people can’t hide away in there any more.”

In a bid to rid the car parks of the skateboarders, Mr Aimes suggested that, as a last resort, the council may consider introducing by-laws to stop the problem: “Fining people may be our last course of action.”

Mr Venn added that signs were already up and that the council had been working closely with police.

“It is a part of our culture unfortunately, but we do need to work with our young people.”


Charlotte Neal
Chief Reporter (Aldershot)
Joshua Smith
Farnborough Reporter
Jon Couch
Sport Editor
Stephen Lloyd
Fleet & Yateley Reporter
Ros Collins
Junior News & Mail
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