THE decision to close a community skatepark in Small Dole has been criticised by a former parish councillor who helped to deliver it in the first place.
Upper Beeding Parish Council closed the skatepark after inspectors ruled it need up to £50,000 spent on it to make it safe.
However, Joyce Shaw, who spent 20 years on the parish council including five as chairman, has accused the council of not doing enough to preserve it.
She said: “It’s the only thing we have given to the teenagers in the village in the last ten years.
“It might go back to what it was before we had the skatepark, where the teenagers were skating and scooting across the village annoying everybody.
“I’m just annoyed it’s been allowed to get to the state it’s got into. If it had been checked regularly it could have been dealt with quicker. If you get a hole in a jumper you repair it straight away or it gets bigger and bigger. It’s the same principle.”
The skatepark was built eight years ago after young people in the parish approached the council asking for one.
Current parish council chairman Simon Birnstingl disagrees Mrs Shaw’s claims insisting the skatepark was inspected annually and around £1,000 was spent on its upkeep each year.
He said: “We undertook to maintain the skatepark and we have done at a cost of over £1,000 a year but it’s just come to a point where a wooden skatepark has come to the end of its life.
“One of the things that often surprises people is how much these things cost. It is purpose built out of special plywood. It’s got to conform to standards, be inspected and comply with our insurance.”
The land on which the skatepark is built belongs to the Mackley family, who allowed the council to build a skatepark there.
Mr Birnstingl said had the council proposed building the skatepark out of concrete it may not have been approved because of the permanence of the structure.
He also said that when the council consulted with the children at the time the feedback suggested that they would much rather skate a wooden park.
Despite the closure of the skatepark, Mr Birnstingl insisted the council was keen to replace it with something else and already had around £25,000 available to spend.
He said the council would welcome input from the community due to a shortage of councillors.
“This is the kind of thing we have problems with simply because we don’t have enough councillors,” said Mr Birnstingl. “In Small Dole for example, it should have three councillors; it’s only got one. He’s chairing a committee and he has a private life, too, so he can’t do everything that comes his way.
“We have eight parish councillors out of a total of 15 spaces. We want people to come forward to help with this or join us on the parish council.”
The chairman has also urged youngsters not to use the skatepark. He said: “We need to get it removed because there’s a real risk someone will hurt themselves and that’s the last thing we want.”
Mrs Shaw has asked anyone who wants to help save the skatepark to email email@example.com
The parish council can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org