July 9, 2015
A new £48,000 skatepark in Oakham, Rutland, has caused outrage, disappointment and concern after local skaters and riders have labelled the park a disaster.
Having replacing the old wood skatepark in Cutts Close, locals are voicing their annoyance at Oakham Town Council for not being consulted and finding the park unusable. They are particularly concerned that the skatepark, due to be completed on Friday, is an inappropriate size for the area and dangerously proportioned, with insufficient run-off and unrideable transition.
We reached out to newly elected Oakham Town Councillor Martin Brookes to find out if any consultations were carried out. He confirmed that “schools were consulted and this park is designed for user up to 11 years of age”.
Unfortunately this suggests a significant lack of understanding at Oakham Town Council, approaching this project as if it were a playground and hiring playground equipment company Monster Play (Caloo Ltd) to build the park. Given that the average skatepark user is over the age of 11, and skateparks are most certainly not playgrounds, it’s no wonder that Oakham Skaters are outraged.
We viewed the recording of the council meeting where the skatepark was discussed and it backs up our concerns that the Council were not in an informed position to choose an appropriate design:
For those of you thinking about building a skatepark in the future, remember that consulting with schools and children is not a good place to start when choosing designs for a skatepark. Second, just because you’re a teenager doesn’t mean you skate or ride. Finally, just because you skate or ride doesn’t mean you have any understanding of how a skatepark should be designed.
With many specialist skatepark designers, builders and consultants in the UK, including several of the UK’s biggest based within an hour of Oakham, there is no excuse in this day and age for Oakham Town Council, or any other local authority, to be misinformed when making a decision like this that will affect young people for many years to come.
We have reached out to Oakham Town Council for comment, they have expressed that they will respond to our specific questions.