Cromer skatepark axed

Skating and biking youngsters have been denied the chance of a special play area at Cromer because of opposition from neighbours at a chalet park.Funding for the possible 'wheeled park' near Happy Valley has been withdrawn because of unresolved concerns over anti-social behaviour.

Skating and biking youngsters have been denied the chance of a special play area at Cromer because of opposition from neighbours at a chalet park.

Funding for the possible 'wheeled park' near Happy Valley has been withdrawn because of unresolved concerns over anti-social behaviour.

Officials this week voiced disappointment and anger, saying many of the fears were unfounded and hysterical - and felt local children would believe adults had stood in the way of their wishes.

After ruling out other sites around the town North Norfolk District Council promoted an existing play area off Overstrand Road as a site for skateboards, skates, BMX and mountain bikes.


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Some concerns centred on its remoteness, location in a popular beauty spot and lack of any road access for emergency vehicles.

But most were from residents of the next door King's Chalet Park, worried about noise and anti-social behaviour, said the council's countryside and parks manager Paul Ingham who thought many were overstated and smacked of nimbyism.

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The funding was from a �1m Norfolk pot from a national Playbuilder programme whose local spokesman Jon Robinson said he was shocked at the 'hysterical' nature of some of the strong concerns about possible anti-social behaviour.

'I was staggered by the tone of some letters which said the park would lead to drug taking, drunkenness and under-age sex - it smacks of a bit of a witch hunt against kids who just want to follow their hobbies of riding bikes or skating.'

Mr Robinson said dropping the Cromer project 'with great regret' was all the more galling as the initiative was one of the few to come from youngsters themselves, who would now feel 'grown ups had got in their way.'

The inability to resolve the problems before a deadline next spring, meant the cash would be lost and taken back to the national pot. He was keen to ensure it was used elsewhere, and confirmed that talks were under way about a possible play area of a different kind at North Walsham.

Chalet park manager Reg Evans however denied the owners' concerns were hysterical, saying they voiced fears that peaceful location when they spent the summer and enjoyed walking would be spoiled by youngsters gathering at skatepark.

'We had trouble a few years ago when druggies used to hang out in a hut, which got burned down. A lot of our residents are elderly and have been coming here 30 or 40 years, and would be frightened by anti-social behaviour. It is such a beautiful spot, and we felt a skate park would be better at the Runton Road,' he added.

District council's health improvement officer Sonia Shuter said the council looked at a number of sites around the town but the Happy Valley one off the Overstrand Road was the only one that satisfied the funding criteria.

'Young people have wanted this for years and they will feel really let down. It's a great shame.

'Concerns have also been expressed that a wheeled park, wherever it was located, would increase vandalism and anti-social behaviour. Some people seem to assume that all young people misbehave, which is nonsense,' added Mrs Shuter.

Fourteen-year-old skateboarder Anthon Harman from Felbrigg said: 'We put our views, but they don't get answered.'

It would be better to have a skate park, but he would have preferred a more central site such as the Meadow, and would continue to skate around the streets and promenade, where he did not get too much grief.

Local church youth worker Ed Land said he would like to see a mobile skate park which could be taken around different locations in the area.

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