Sunday, 22 October 2017

Henley Town Council pledge funding towards new skate park

CAMPAIGNERS for a new skate park in Henley have received a funding boost.

CAMPAIGNERS for a new skate park in Henley have received a funding boost.

Town councillors have agreed to put £75,000 towards the £250,000 project.

The pledge follows a presentation by the Henley Skate Park Initiative to members of the town council?s recreation and amenities committee.

Chairman Colin Brathwaite said the money would help the group when it applied for funding from other sources.

He said that Sport England had turned down an application for a £50,000 grant because there was no match funding.

?We need to reapply to Sport England and to South Oxfordshire District Council?s Community Investment Fund next year,? said Mr Brathwaite. ?We don?t need the money now, all we need is a pledge and once we get that we can apply for other grants.?

The new skate park at Makins recreation ground would be twice the size of the existing one, which the users say is dated, noisy and unsuitable.

Mr Brathwaite said that if the council was to replace the existing skate park with a like-for-like facility in 2015 it would cost £116,000.

However, the skate park that his group was proposing would have a lifespan three times that of the current facility. ?What we are proposing is a very cost-effective solution,? he said. ?We have proved that our proposals are sustainable and together we have a chance to achieve something fantastic.?

Speaking from the public gallery, former mayor Gill Dodds, of Greys Road, said: ?The skate park should be replaced and upgraded. It is like any other piece of equipment that the town council maintains.

?The only reason for not replacing it would be if it was redundant but there is a huge support for skateboarding so I don?t think you could possibly take that view.?

Paula Isaac, who chairs Gainsborough Residents? Association, said: ?A new skate park would greatly improve facilities in the town. There are no facilities for our older children and the skate park is a great facility that needs replacing. It would give children on the estate an opportunity to share a common interest.?

A doctor who lives in Gainsborough Road said that a new skate park would benefit the wider Henley community. She said: ?It is not just Gainsborough Road, it is Elizabeth Road, Badgemore, Hop Gardens. These kids are from every background and walk of life. ?We definitely need the skate park updating ? it needs to be done from a safety point of view. At the moment it is an accident waiting to happen.?

Jake Clarke, from Highmoor, said: ?If and when it is done it is going to be more than just a skate park, it is a substantial hub. It will be something to everyone.?

Town and county councillor David Nimmo Smith said the initiative had a ?laudable vision? but he questioned £75,000 of public money being budgeted on the basis of a report that was short on detail and without a business plan or any designs.

He added: ?If you give them the proposed £75,000 you will find it difficult to turn down clubs and societies who also cater for the sporting and recreational needs and desires of the young of Henley, such as the rugby club, cricket club, hockey club, football club and both rowing clubs.?

Councillor Will Hamilton said: ?Looking at the finances of the town council, the youth centre and Nomad are a greater priority than the skate park.?

Councillor Sam Evans said she was ?disappointed? with the presentation and felt that more work needed to be done to find funding from elsewhere.

She said she had spent half an hour searching the internet for potential funding sources and had found ?an amazing number?. ?Not all of them can be non-starters,? she added.

Councillor Kellie Hinton replied: ?We don?t have many free-to-use facilities and we should be doing all we can to provide them.?

Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak said: ?We are putting into the accounts a sum of £75,000, which may or may not be used.?

Councillor Elizabeth Hodgkin said: ?The money might not be spent next year or the following year. I remember putting in £30,000 for the Eyot Centre but it wasn?t spent for 10 years.?

The committee agreed to earmark £75,000 for the skate park in next year?s budget and this decision was ratified by the full council on Tuesday.

As reported in last week?s Henley Standard, the initiative had produced a draft tender document. If it is approved by the council, it will be sent to three shortlisted companies asking them to submit a concept design.

What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley, RG9 1AD or email letters@henleystandard.co.uk

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