Consultation on vandalism-plagued skate park

Derbyshire Dales residents are to be consulted on the future of an Ashbourne skate park that has become a regular target for vandalism.

Closed a year ago after a fire started in the skate park resulted in £300,000 worth of damage and loss of income at the District Council's adjoining Ashbourne Leisure Centre, the facility has cost the council an additional £22,500 in repairs and maintenance since it opened 11 years ago.

Ashbourne Leisure CentreAccording to specialists, the skate park will cost as much as £7,000 to put right but probably has a life expectancy of only another two years.

Last night (Thursday) our Community and Environment Committee backed an officer recommendation to ask the public – including young people - to have their say on three options: to re-open the skate park at a cost of around £7,000 to extend its life for another two years, relocate the facility at a cost of £35,000 plus ground works, for which external funding could be applied for, or close it altogether. As part of the consultation, local people will also be invited to suggest other viable alternatives.

Councillors heard that although the council had regularly met with police, local volunteer groups and the county council in an attempt to solve problems at the park, anti-social behaviour was continuing, despite the introduction of CCTV and litter bins. The park had become a meeting place for young people to consume alcohol, broken glass was frequently found at the site and evidence of drug taking had been found.

Last year a children's party had been gate-crashed by skate park users, and leisure centre employees were often subjected to threatening behaviour and verbal abuse.

A report stated:

"Employees of the leisure centre are tasked with monitoring and cleaning the skate park, however some employees don't feel comfortable doing so after treatment they have received by skate park users."

Opened in May 2004 in a project part-funded by Ashbourne ID Skate Group, the park had been envisaged as a safe environment for under 18s to use BMX bikes, skate boards and roller skates away from traffic and pavements.

But councillors heard that skate park specialists Ramp Child had advised that the typical life expectancy of a park of this type was between 10 and 13 years - and the Ashbourne facility is already 11 years old.

Councillors agreed that the skate park would remain closed during the public consultation process.

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