PLANS for a skatepark in Crowthorne have sparked fears of an increase in vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

A dispute over the scheme broke out when residents and councillors gathered at a Crowthorne Parish Council meeting on Tuesday of last week.

One resident attacked the plans, saying: "It will attract more people and if we do that, we will increase the element of vandalism."

Another called skateboarding a "fad" and questioned the need for a skatepark in the long term, while a third resident told the council "we are losing our village green".

But Cllr Lars Swann, who has devoted months of hard work to drawing up a suitable skatepark plan and a consultation form, simply argued: "Vandalism is a recognised problem in most towns and villages."

Last year, plans to construct a temporary skatepark in the Morgan Recreation Ground fell to shreds after dozens of residents complained of the noise and vandalism it could create.

Following the dispute, Cllr Swann drew up a consultation form, giving residents the chance to voice their views on three possible sites—- the Morgan Recreation Ground, Circle Hill and the land next to South Meadow on the Broadmoor Estate.

The consultation revealed that 114 of the 189 residents who responded felt the Morgan Recreation Ground in Wellington Road would be the most suitable site.

The main concerns noted were anti-social behaviour, the provision of CCTV, noise levels and the cost.

Cllr Swann's report of the consultation concluded: "The siting of the skatepark provides an appropriate and cost effective facility for the young residents, which takes into account the issues and concerns raised during public consultation."

But following last week's outcry, where many felt Circle Hill had been overlooked, Cllr Swann suggested setting up an exhibition over three weekends in July, August and September, where residents will have more opportunities to offer their points of view.

This means a final decision will be postponed till October.

In the meantime, residents are encouraged to put their comments in writing to the council.

l If given the go-ahead, the initial plans would involve laying 143 sq m of tarmac and installing a quarter-pipe ramp, a half-pyramid ramp and a start platform.