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posted 24 Apr 2012, 08:56 by Westover Labour   [ updated 24 Apr 2012, 14:16 ]
At last weeks meeting of Bridgwater Town Council, councillors discussed an intervention by Laura Costello, secretary of the Bridgwater Skatepark campaign, to ensure that money set aside for the long awaited skatepark for Bridgwater is used for what people want and what they have campaigned for. 

   Plans to build the park on YMCA grounds with a possible entrance charge and within a supervised environment were criticised by Skatepark campaigners during the consultation phase which is due to be considered at a meeting at the YMCA on Wednesday 25th April by the SDC sponsored 'Wheels Sports Facility Action Group' chaired by SDC Councillor John Swayne.

Laura's letter to the Town Council

I attended the recent consultation at the Town Hall on Friday 13 April, along with Cllr Smedley and several service users/members of Bridgwater Skatepark Campaign (both skaters and BMX’ers), and am writing with 4 main concerns about the plans of SDC/YMCA.

  It is imperative that service users be consulted at every stage of planning a new facility.

This clearly does not seem to be happening. Prior to the recent formal consultation there have been 2 meetings, at which there have been no service users. Service users need to be involved in all planning and this should include the question of whether a controlled environment/skatepark is even what they actually want. So far they have been given the impression that that decision has already been made as they are being asked to ‘chose between the 3 designs’.

We would like to bring elected members of BSC to any future meetings; 1 skater and 1 rider, and would ask that these are held at appropriate times for those who work and study; early evening.

  3 companies have been chosen to submit designs for the facility with no input from service users. There are many companies, and had they been asked, the second, and possibly first, company would never have been chosen.

 Where is the continuity of the plan of SDC (initiated in 2008/2009) to provide 2 neighbourhood parks at an earlier stage, with families built in a large park to complement these (at a later stage)? Which brings me to the following issues:

 Accessibility at the YMCA concerns me, BSC, service users and many others.

I have voiced this to Martin Hodgson (YMCA) on 29.3.2012, informing him of where plans for a 3rd park were left when the 2 neighbourhood parks were completed:

When we campaigned in 2009 for a skatepark, money was put aside by the town council and SDC grants committee for 2 small neighbourhood parks (which were built) and to complement them, a large, outdoor, council owned and run, FREE to use skate and BMX park. We, and most probably the general public too, are not happy the YMCA facility could be a pay-to-get-in facility which defeats the object of being accessible by all. It also raises issues that tax-payers money (RLT3) is being spent for only those that can afford it

Providing facilities that complement what provision is already in the town, and that is aimed specifically at the older service users, does not seem to be the priority at the YMCA.

I would like to remind everyone that BSC accepted SDC’s offer of the 2 neighbourhood parks, as they promised that there would be a 3rd, larger facility built at a later date. This is backed up by my last contact with Cllr Ann Bown, who said (in her letter to me of 28.7.2009) “ ...we can look to resurrect the Task and Finish Group in order to establish what facilities the older teenagers would like for the large skate park”.

 Supporting information.

Collated comments from the service users who attended the Town Hall consultation. (These are by no means a consensus opinion but are a good reflection of the views and feelings of the older service users who the park needs to be aimed at).....

Provision required on large-scale park (that has not been provided for by the 2 neighbourhood parks):

·        Bank to bank

·        Hips

·        A minimum 6ft quarter

·        Bowl (I have examples of the shapes suggested)

·        6ft box jump

·        The dinosaur back type bit on the Maverick design is good

·        We like Midsomer Norton park as the provision is large-scale

·        We like the grind ledges on Glastonbury’s park (round the outside)

·        Spines

·        Bricked banks

Other comments:

·        No cover is needed

·        No staff wanted

·        No compulsory wearing of helmet/safety gear

·        No slackline or climbing frame

Good examples of what we would like to see in Bridgwater:

Glastonbury skatepark, Dorchester skatepark and Filton skatepark are all good models of large scale, council-owned, outdoor skateparks on the edge of towns. Taunton park specifically is a good model and one that was built after clear consultation and input by service users, and hence is still well used well a couple of years on:

·        The site is great; in the corner of (T.Deane) Hamilton to allotment

·        The size is slightly bigger than we could afford with the money in Bridgwater

·        The skaters and riders like the design of the park but would obviously need input to decide company used and to design a park for their own needs.

Bridgwater Skatepark Campaign

secretary , Laura Costello


Town Councillors gave full support to the Bridgwater Skatepark Campaign and a motion by Cllr Brian Smedley (Labour,Westover) seconded by Cllr David Baker (Conservative,Wyndham) resolved that the Town Council reaffirm it's support for a Publicly accessible, free of charge skate facility developed and designed in full consultation with potential  users and that this  be brought to the attention of the meeting on the 25th as the Town Council position.

Bridgwater Town Council has contributed £20,000 to the Skatepark project


At a meeting between Westover Town & District Councillor Brian Smedley and SDC Portfolio holder Cllr John Swayne (Conservative,North Petherton)  , the chair of the Wheels Sports Facility Action group confirmed that "nothing was yet set in stone" and he was " open to all ideas". He agreed to invite Laura Costello and 2 members of the Bridgwater Skatepark Campaign to the meeting to put their case and to participate in the discussions. He stressed that the key issue had always been available land and whilst the YMCA offer was a big step forward it was not necessarily the final offer on the table. He had looked at many suggestions for land and would await the results of the wider consultation to decide on the next step. He further confirmed that the SDC funding of £110,000 remained in place , was guaranteed and would not expire in May as feared.

The Meeting of the Wheels Sports Facility Action Group would take place at the YMCA at 2pm on Wednesday 25th April. The Committee would consist of Cllr John Swayne (SDC Portfolio holder) Councillors Ian Tucker (Dunwear) Brian Smedley (Westover) Steve Austen & Adrian Moore(Hamp) Dave Loveridge (Eastover) Gill Slocombe (Wyndham) plus Sedgemoor officers Harley Cook, Marina Turner & Teresa Harvey, Town Clerk Alan Hurford, YMCA staff Martin Hodgson, Nicky Parfitt,Robin Sealey alongwith Laura Costello + 2 skaters (Bridgwater Skatepark campaign)