Brighton skate park plan edges forward

Campaigners looking to improve parks in East Brighton have secured community support for a skate park.

The idea received enthusiastic support at a Brighton and Hove City Council housing panel, where residents’ representatives, councillors and officers discuss housing issues.

Park Life Brighton carried out an informal consultation with young people in Whitehawk to find suitable locations for a skate park.

The two most popular were near the Crew Club, in Whitehawk Road, or by the playground in East Brighton Park.

Daniel Harris, representing the Park Life group at the meeting yesterday (Tuesday 12 October), said that more than 220 people had responded to a consultation.

He said: “One of the ideas from the team at Park Life is to get a bunch of skaters and people who are interested to go along to Brighton Youth Centre skate park and have some workshops. Then we’ll start the consultation stage.”

Mr Harris said that he wanted to make sure that young people under 26 had a full say on a future project although he accepted that older skaters cold use skate parks.

Labour councillor Gill Williams, who represents East Brighton ward, said that people she had spoken to from the area were keen on the idea.

She had contacted a skate park design firm called Maverick, she said, and learnt a basic skate park would cost at least £250,000.

Councillor Williams said that she hoped to “tap into” developers’ financial contributions and businesses such as the racecourse and approach Sussex Police for a share of its community fund.

She said: “We can get going with this. What I would like to do is get a working group together and start planning ahead.

“I would like to make up a young person’s led group to let young people lead it and get involved with it.

“Maverick are happy to bring young people on board with the design, engineering and construction, which would be brilliant for young people to get stuck in and gain some valuable experience and inspire them.”

Councillor Gill Williams

Before anything could move forward, the housing panel was told, formal consultation would be necessary.

Conservative councillor Dee Simson said that she started off the skate park in Woodingdean with £10,000 from developers’ contributions.

The money had “sat in Cityparks’ bank account”, she said, with the majority of funding coming from a community bid to Veolia.

She said: “It was all driven by young people. All the consultation was done through the youth project. We had three or four young men who were so keen.

“They did the drawings, the plans, everything. At the end of the day, our skate park caters for little kids of three years old on their little scooters and the professional-type skaters.

“The community of all ages gel together. They take care of one another.”

Councillor Dee Simson

The location would be critical, Councillor Simson said, and should be away from people’s homes.

Whitehawk resident Christine El-Shabba, who chaired the housing panel meeting, was enthusiastic about the idea.

She said: “There’s one at Shoreham I’ve seen (with) kids of no more than two or three right up to adults having a whale of a time. It’s really good to see them expending energy rather than glued to a screen.”

Woodingdean residents representative Janet Gearing suggested the Park Life team make a visit to Newhaven’s skate park which she said was the best in the area.

She said: “My grandchildren go up to the one in Woodingdean and they love it. I have been told the one in Newhaven is amazing. Friends have said it is out of this world.”

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