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Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

Not just a half-pipe dream - Council plans for skaters and BMXrs

Friday, March 09, 2012


Wheeled sports fans - skateboarders and BMX and scooter riders - could be in line for new facilities in Stockton after the Council's Cabinet earmarked funding to help plan them.

In recent months, young people have urged the Council to develop wheeled sports facilities to cater for those who use skate boards, BMX bikes, in-line skates and scooters.

Last year, the Council consulted with local fans of these sports to gain a better understanding of their needs.

As a result, it will work with skaters, riders and potential partners to attract funding to develop a range of facilities and opportunities across the Borough. To match-fund future bids for external funding, the Council earmarked £200,000 in its recent budget.

Proposals under consideration include a new major 'destination' skate park, along with one or more smaller neighbourhood skate parks.

Cabinet members agreed that plans for a skate park at John Whitehead Park, Billingham, currently being developed with local young people, Billingham Town Council and others should go ahead, subject to consultation on the final design and securing the necessary funding.

Although these facilities are most likely to be outdoors, one or more could be an indoor skate park operated privately or by a community group.

The Council will also explore how it might manage certain public areas, including town centres, as potential sites for wheeled sports, for example outside normal trading hours, adding to their vibrancy. It could also develop dirt jumps and small pump tracks for BMX and mountain bikes at country parks or other green spaces.

In recent months, the Council has organised various events to engage with young people who had petitioned it to press for new facilities and completed an earlier survey by the Safer Billingham Partnership.

Last autumn, 388 young people completed an on-line survey on wheeled sports and 75 young people and adults attended a workshop session at Stockton Central Library in January to develop ideas.

The Council already owns mobile skate facilities and the Community Action Against Crime Innovation Fund recently awarded the Elm Tree Community Centre a £53,649 grant to operate these at the Centre at weekends over the next 14 months.

Two recent enquiries from people looking to find suitable premises for indoor skate parks are at an early stage of development.

Councillor Ann McCoy, the Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "I have been very impressed by the young people who have worked with us to help us understand the issues and to develop a way to provide for these sports.

"I'd like to thank them for all their work and ideas and I hope we can move things forward with their active involvement. We have earmarked money to help attract other external funding which we need to develop these plans.

"We will be engaging with users, other people and organisations who may be interested in developing, delivering or managing facilities, events or activities. The aim is to be able to consult on more detailed proposals by the autumn.

"We also want to encourage people to participate in these sports and we'll be looking for opportunities to do this through events and activities.

"Most users skate or ride near their homes but many also use their boards or bikes to travel to other, often informal locations as well as visiting purpose-built facilities elsewhere in the region. The majority would like some purpose-built facilities near their homes but recognise this may not be possible and are willing to travel to other sites if they are good.

"These activities bring many benefits to those taking part but we also recognise that others may view them as negative or noisy so we will carry out widespread local consultation before finalising any plans."

BMXer Ben Shorttle, 18, a member of the Billingham Youth Forum 'Stand Up, Shout Out', said: "It's fantastic that everyone who has worked so hard has now been heard and we will have somewhere in the future to enjoy this sport without having to travel too far."

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