Thursday, November 22, 2007

Skatepark Will Have To Go (from Harrow Times)

Byron Skatepark where a teen was recently assaulted is to be closed despite the complaints of local and international skaters. Look at the range of comments on the first article.

1970's skate park 'irreplaceable'
Tuesday 20th November 2007
A SKATEPARK due to be built over by the council is irreplaceable according to a professional BMX rider. James Hitchcox, 30, is the head of a Users Association for Byron Skatepark, off Christchurch Avenue, and is campaigning to save what he says is one of the best facilities for skaters and BMX riders in the country.He said: "I have to be optimistic about saving it because it is what I have ridden for so many years. I was not that interested in school but I used to go down to the skatepark and one day I got noticed. That skatepark is what started my career. There is so much history and culture in the skate and BMX world. I have had riders come from Australia and America and stay at my house just so they can ride in a 1970s park."

The park was hand-crafted by a builder in 1976 and has attracted people from across the country ever since.

It is being demolished to make way for a new leisure centre and will be replaced by a new £300,000 facility in the centre of the park.

Councillor Paul Osborn, portfolio holder for strategy and business support, said: "The skate park has to move - there is no question about that. The whole project depends on it.

"I do not think it is fair to say that we cannot have a brand new leisure centre just because of this skate park."

The Harrow Times website has been inundated with calls to save the facility since the decision was made but Councillor Anjana Patel, portfolio holder for community and cultural services, has defended the plans.

She said: "We are not closing it, the new park will be a better one. This park is very old and the new one will be designed by the young people who use it. The youngsters will get what they want."

The council held a meeting on Tuesday night at Byron Park Leisure Centre to hear suggestions from users about what the new park should be like.

James has been riding since he was 12 and has used the skatepark for the past ten years. He said: "If you ride in the park it is not perfect but that is what we like about it. Modern skate parks are made off site and they have no querkiness or originality. You cannot find someone to remake it. That park is a one off thing."

Do you have fond memories of the skatepark? Leave your comments below...

Skatepark Will Have To Go (from Harrow Times)

21st November 2007

A LOCAL skatepark will have to go but more money could be spent on its replacement, skaters and BMX riders were told at a meeting last night.

Councillor Chris Mote, leader of Harrow Council, told the Byron Skatepark Users Association the current facility at Byron Park, off Christchurch Avenue, will definitely be demolished.

He said: "The existing skatepark will have to go - I have got to make that absolutely clear.

"We will never please everyone all of the time, this is not utopia, but we want to take an approach that is fair to everyone."

The skatepark will be demolished to make way for a new leisure centre and replaced with a new facility on a different location in the park.

Members of the users group told Cllr Mote the existing park would cost more to replace than the £300,000 the council has already promised.

They have also said health and safety restrictions might prevent the council from rebuilding the current park to the same design.

Mark Langston, a BMX rider who lived in Harrow for 34 years, said: "On the old concrete you don't slip. The new parks are made out of polished metal or polished concrete that's screened and shined.

"There are a lot of things in that skatepark that the Health and Safety Commission do not agree with but we've been riding it for years."

He added: "There are people talking about this meeting in America because they do not want this site to go."

But Cllr Mote hinted more money could be made available if needed.

The users group suggested a number of other sites for the centre but all were either already up for sale, too small or were privately owned.

James Hitchcox, head of the users group, said: "I just think that 30 years ago, when the park was built, they went to so much effort to make skateboarding a part of our culture and I really hope they do that again.

"It could be a piece de resistance."

The meeting was held to help Cllr Mote and council officers work with skatepark users in designing the new facility.

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