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Ealing and Northfield

Elthorne Park the right place for a skate park?

elthorne-park

The council is currently consulting on the idea of putting a skate park into Elthorne Park. There is a little history to this. Last year we ran a Youth Provision Specialist Scrutiny Panel, see final report here. This was in turn a follow up to the annual Youth Conference we have held since 2007. As part of this work we asked 18,000 young people how they would spend £1 million to improve youth provision. Some of the answers that came back were improve parks and provide a skate park. It seemed natural to combine these.

The council believes that a high quality skate park in a park setting would be an asset to the borough and would be well used and popular with young people. The next question is where to put it. A number of locations have been considered. We got down to three: Ealing Central Sports Ground in Perivale, Elthorne Park, Hanwell and Northala Fields, Northolt. All three have their appeal but Elthorne Park stands out due to the distance away from neighbouring homes, proximity to the sports centre at Elthorne Park High School where there is a manned reception, an easy link to CCTV, toilets, etc. The site can easily be viewed from the road – a big plus from a security point of view.

We have NOT decided to go ahead with this project. We feel that this is a realistic and worthwhile project and we are putting it to the public in this consultation. We have sent out a special version of the consultation to 2,500 local residents. These are the important people here. We also put a piece in the July issue of Around Ealing to steer people to the more general version for other borough residents on the website here.

For Hanwell people, especially people living near to Elthorne Park, we have a classic NIMBY issue. Most people would like to see more facilities for young people but would perhaps prefer to see someone else hosting them. We do think this is a good location and one where young people can have a great facility without bugging the neighbours (too much).

I was disappointed to see a picture of six lonely looking protestors on page 4 of the Ealing and Acton Gazette yesterday. Carolyn Brown, who styles herself chair of Hanwell Community Forum, was pictured along with five other people, and two dogs, under the headline “We don’t want a skate park”. She might have waited for the consultation results before she ran off to the paper. Having been a portfolio holder for over a year I have never received a letter or an e-mail from this woman but she seems to be in the paper every few minutes. She has certainly done a better job of getting her photo in the paper than I have. I am always a bit suspicious that Hanwell Community Forum is not much more than a platform for Ms Carolyn Brown, certainly I can’t find any notices of meetings, minutes, etc online. She says:

If consultation shows that there is a genuine demand in Ealing for a skate park then we (I) would support that. But Ealing is a very big place, so we (I) are (am) wondering why they would have to put a skate-boarding facility in the middle of Elthorne Park. This is a site which is regularly used by people of all ages, and the trees and grass are vital to the area. This would create noise and disturbance.

People having fun usually is a bit noisy. Sorry. I do think this is a good site and I accept we are asking a lot of the neighbours. You have until 17th July to take part in the consultation. Being both a local (next door) councillor and the person in charge of parks I am particularly interested in your opinion. I think this is a great project and I hope that Hanwell backs it.

12 replies on “Elthorne Park the right place for a skate park?”

Carolyn Brown and her organisation may prefer to communicate through the Gazette. As long as the message is clear and it is understood then that must be OK. It brings the situation to the public realm and the public may decide and council may read and react. Like her we sometimes find it easier to use a blog or the press to get something done. And although ward forums exist many problems are not ward specific and ward forums don’t happen that often. Like the padlock on the park gate we used this blog to get a padlock for Lammas Park to keep some wildlife in and some out. It was very effective.
Talking about information minutes agendas etc and notwithstanding the loss of the council website for weeks mention was made at the enquiry of the draft Section 106 agreement for the Arcadia application. I am rather interested in deals and my ears pricked up at the very favourable terms that had been negotiated by the developer with the Council. I hoped to find this on the council website. Well I failed.
Hanwell Community Forum is probably the same as any other residents association. It struggles with problem overload and just about scrapes through. We might be able to produce a website if we were able to move problems on. You understand our problem because you were upset when you found the truth about the Dof Transport guidance on Box junctions had laid around in someones intray and you didn’t know.

Arthur,

Any chance you want to tell us what you think of the skate park?

Although you are horribly off topic as they say in the blog world I can tell you that the original report put before the Planning Committee listed £8 million of Section 106 on pages 143/144, see here.

Could have looked harder! Took me about 2 minutes old boy.

I am not entirely sure of my ground but I believe that Section 106 is not meant to be part of the planning decision, ie you are meant to decide on the scheme’s merits and then negotitate Section 106 later. This may be the reason it is not very prominent in the papers or discussion. Not my field.

Phil
I assume you know what I said at the Elthorne Ward Forum from the minutes that I can’t find on the council website. I said that I thought there should be a skateboard facility at every park in the borough. I received raptuous applause. You won’t find it because the council control the minutes so why are you carping on about Carolyn.
I assume what is on Page 143/144 is only a short version of the 106 detail. The inspector would have had that I am sure. Neverthless he asked for and received what looked like a 10 page pack which is quite different from your page 143/144. If you had followed the inquiry there was much debate about how various elements of Section 106 money were arrived at and when these monies were to be paid.
There were even allotments mentioned in this 106 money and your Mr B didn’t know where they were. Mr B passed a note a day later to the Inspector to explain where they were and presumably the area and the soil pH. As you say not your allotment or your field. Hope you are better prepared on Tuesday.

Arthir, I was at the Elthorne ward forum and you defenitely didn’t get a round of applause. In fact quiet a few people were annoyed at you because you seemed to talk whenever a thought entered your head and gave no consideration for others who were waiting to speak. I appreciate that you are enthusiastic but you should wait your turn and not constantly interupt or jump in in front of people.
Phil
Carolyn has done a better job of getting into the paper than you and everyone else too. I don’t know anyone who gets into the paper more than her, well maybe Steve pound, but no one else.
As far as the skate park is concerned, i hope it goes ahead. i was a member of the youth provision panel and it was clear from the consultation that teemagers want this. I visited a skate park in Harrow and the kids there loved it. We shouldn’t be afraid to do this. If Carolyn brown thinks the trees and the grass is more important than providing teenagers with something productive to do, then people can compare both arguments and decide for themselves. I’m for the skate park

I think the skate park is a great idea and the location is ideal. I can’t believe noise would be a problem as it is well away from any houses, indeed the nearest houses are the other side of the kiddies’ play area which already generates plenty of noise. Often you can hardly hear a conversation anyway with the roar of the M4 and the planes overhead, and if the kids are at the skate park they are not making a noise beneath the windows of residential streets. The proposed location is not near the more natural and quieter areas of the park, it is between existing play and sports facilities and perfectly placed for the kids of Elthorne High School. As for the suggestion that it wouldn’t be used for much of the year due to the weather, kids are not made of sugar and won’t melt in the rain. There’s too much ferrying them from one indoor location to another where they are closely supervised and they need more chances to spend time letting off steam outdoors. I’m over 40 and am unlikely to take up skateboarding again but I believe that giving the young people this facility will benefit the whole community.

However, I do think that providing basic toilet facilities and maybe a drinking fountain would be very useful. If access to those of the sports centre is proposed then they should be clearly signposted and freely available at all times. Currently family afternoons in the park can often be terminated by a need to use a toilet, or the bushes become an ad-hoc facility.

A few points.

Carolyn Brown is an effective representative of local opinion around Hanwell and has had successes. If you are interested in finding out what she does, then ask Colm Costello, instead of moaning about not being able to find something online – and being impertinent. And on the point of this particular moan, until the Council has a modern website where documents can be located easily, rather than by people in the know, such as you, then we cannot have more open government, more democracy, and less contempt for local politicians who like to have a system which is a refuge for opaque obscurantist obfuscation. Hanwell Forum, like many other community websites does not have the funding available to the Council, so it is hypocritical for you to complain, when your own system is so antediluvian. You as Communications portfolio holder and the relevant Council staff should be deeply ashamed of the website’s lousy characteristics. Perhaps you may have the courage to tell us when we shall see improvements. Or perhaps not.

Perhaps you would like to consider making community chest funds available to the main community Forum groups in the borough – by inviting bids.

On the point of Section 106 monies, there should be articles in the Council Ealing happy rag about how it works. There should be far easier access to what has been decided and what is in the pipeline – from a borough viewpoint – not just from monies coming out of Arcadia/Dickens Yard. The electors should have greater input and influence into what this system is all about. It does not warrant you disrespectfully saying ‘Old Boy’ to some one who cannot find the 106 stuff on your pathetic website, when you seem to be saying you don’t know much about the system. As a Tory cabinet member it’s about time you got on yer bike, and told us really what it is all about and how it works – and specifically how and when we can influence decisions.

I am not convinced by this skate boarding gimmick, because I have a feeling that skate boarding (a rare sight on our pavements), is a five minute wonder – unlike swimming or tennis or cricket. It is not something we take into adult life but there are many activities which we do. I am not clear about how gatherings of highly competitive kids are going to behave on a skate board park after twilight and what overview will be taken by the authorities. Locking up a park is not going to deter the most determined users from being attracted to a magnet. If we are to have a new capital asset, I prefer to see one which gives long term returns which our kids can take beyond adolescence.

George,

Too long.

The council’s website is not perfect but you can find things on it if you try. One reason it is hard to find things on the website is that the council is large, so the website is large and it is hard to work out what goes where. The search facility works well and is often the best way of finding things. Comms doesn’t come under my brief so raise this with the leader please.

I don’t think it is that hard for HCF to publish when they have meetings and put up some minutes. Otherwise it looks like one person on a hobby horse. My blog costs me next to nothing and it is not hard for me to upload pictures, documents, etc. Similarly WEN seem to do this well as well. Transparency is a two way street. By all means argue that the council could do better but accept that it applies to others too. The line coming out of some SEC people is that we are small so don’t expect us to identify ourselves, produce minutes, accounts, etc. What is good for the goose …

I think the skate park is a great idea, and you seem to have created quite a buzz, although it doesn’t seem the buzz is entirely about the skate park.

For my 10 cents, when I was growing up there were little or no park facilities to take advantage of and I know that my god children were just about over the moon when finally we had a skate park installed in the local play area (such as it was then). They just about wore this place out and I know it offered up a great place for kids to play with limited supervision being required so I think that the skate park is a great idea.

Obviously I am going to stay away from all the politics that seem to be play as I know nothing about it. Just wanted to share that skate parks turned out to be great for my community when I was growing up.

Cheers
Adirec

George says “I am not convinced by this skate boarding gimmick, because I have a feeling that skate boarding (a rare sight on our pavements), is a five minute wonder”. Hardly a 5 minute wonder, I was a mad keen on skateboarding 30 years ago and would have loved a facility like this back then. We had to make do with a bit of plywood propped against a wall. Also the park would be used for BMX bike riding, and cycling is certainly an activity which can continue into adult life.

I was prompted to post on this blog after reading the “Skate park will blight our lives with noise” article from the Ealing Gazette dated Friday July 10th 2009.

Frankly I was staggered at the lightweight misinformed arguments put forward in the article by local residents in this report which sadly mirror some that have appeared on here.

I don’t live directly around Elthorne Park, however I am a resident of Hanwell and know the park well as I take my son there to play. I am disappointed that local people feel compelled to object to the council even daring to suggest that they might be thinking about providing a creative, sociable, healthy and popular skate park for local children (and adults) to congregate in and enjoy!

I have skateboarded since I was 11 years old (I am now 38). I have a full time job, am married and have one son. I have skated in many parks all over the UK over the years and have many happy memories from doing so. I hope my son will grow up to enjoy the sport as I have, but he will only be able to do so if the progressive thinking from Ealing council and most of the residents in the borough support such initiatives and encourage our youth to do something creative like this instead of ignoring their requirements and leaving them to their own devices.

If you need any more convincing do a search on YouTube for ‘UK Skateboarding’ and watch some of the amazing riding by UK skaters and I guarantee you will not fail to be amazed at the creative, imaginative, artistic people involved in this so called ‘craze’.

I guarantee ‘noise’ will not be a concern for the local residents – we are talking about skateboards, not motorbikes or cars.

My only concern is that if this project does go ahead the council will spend the budget on creating a park that does not meet the requirements of the skaters/bmxers who will be using the park. The council should ensure that as much consultation goes into talking to local skaters/bmxers to guarantee that a park is built that will be used, not left to become another missed opportunity to help local youth (and adults).

I truly hope that this project goes ahead whichever location is decided upon. The borough needs it.

Thanks for reading.

Do you think a skate park would go the same way as the bandstand? In 18 years, I’ve never seen the bandstand used for its purpose, not even at the Hanwell Carnival (a perfect opportunity one would imagine) Sometimes folk use it for makeshift arson practice or to break cider bottles on. They didn’t even put little Emlyn Hughes up there, back in the days when he was alive and attending such functions.

A skateboard facility in Elthorne Park is a brilliant idea. Our parks should be available for all sections of the community to use and that includes something of real interest to teenagers. Can’t wait to see events and competitions that will put the park and Ealing on the map in London.

Perhaps those who protest would prefer teenagers to be rolling around in the park knocking back cheap booze rather then doing something positive and constructive.

Arrogant NIMBYS and dictatorial resident’s groups don’t speak for everyone: only themselves. With new technology we individual residents can now speak for ourselves thank you very much.

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