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Youngsters revive Watton skate park bid

PUBLISHED: 17:11 13 May 2009 | UPDATED: 11:18 08 July 2010

Young skaters in Watton have called for the wheels to be put back in motion to build a skate park in the town.

A group of teenagers have banded together and collected a petition from local homeowners who say they would not be averse to seeing the facility built.

Young skaters in Watton have called for the wheels to be put back in motion to build a skate park in the town.

A group of teenagers have banded together and collected a petition from local homeowners who say they would not be averse to seeing the facility built.

The four A4 sheets, which contain more than 100 signatures, have now been handed into the town council.

The action is set to spark another round of ferocious debate on an issue which has dragged on for more than half a decade.

Previous chapters in the saga have seen the then town mayor barricaded in her car and frustrated councillors left with no option but to hand back a large amount of hard-won funding destined to pay for a skate park to be built.

The petition was collected by 13-year-old skaters Keanu Champion and Bradley Potter, who were supported in their efforts by other boarders.

Bradley said: “There is nothing else to do and this shows that it is not just skaters who would be happy to see that park built.

“We wanted to give the objectors a run for their money.”

Keanu said: “The council had £30,000 worth of funding and then had to give it back because people objected.

“They were all worried about the noise and other things.”

Fellow skater Gareth Pitt, 15, said: “Everybody thinks we smoke all the time and do drugs but none of us do.

“It would mean the police would not be able to move us on for something which is not a crime and we would be able to keep out of the way of pedestrians.”

And it is not just youngsters who want to see the skate park built. Many parents say they want the facility as it would mean their children could play safely.

Keanu's father, Carl Champion, said: “I only found out last week that some of the boys have been walking to Hingham to use the skate park there.

“That is seven miles on roads with a national speed limit.”

Signatures were collected from residents in and around Lovell Gardens, close to where the boys think would be an ideal place to site a skate park.

The skaters say that out of all the people they approached only one person refused to sign.

A skate park was nearly built on the Stokes Avenue sports field, at the west end of the town, in 2003 when, after months of painstaking research into every aspect of building a park, from noise levels to health and safety, the council was successful in bidding for more than £30,000 worth of funding.

Breckland Council also agreed to the land, which it owns, being transferred into the ownership of the town council.

The plan was to build the skate park on a small part of the land, away from housing, and provide a maintained football pitch on the remainder.

But several locals objected and misunderstanding led others to object on the grounds that they believed they would no longer be able to play football on the field.

Things came to a head during a protest at which the town's then mayor, Marilyn Scrymgeour, was barricaded in her car for half and hour by more than 50 youngsters all saying they wanted a football pitch and not a skate park.

Unable to find another place in the town where residents were happy to have a skate park sited councillors were forced to hand back the funding.

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