Thursday, 21 June 2018

Cash boost oils wheels of skate park plan

A NEW skate park in Henley looks set to go ahead after the project received a cash injection

A NEW skate park in Henley looks set to go ahead after the project received a cash injection of £75,000.

The money has been awarded to Henley Town Council by Sport England under its Inspired Facilities scheme.

It brings the total raised so far to £255,000 and means less than £30,000 is now needed to pay for the “wheeled sports facility” at Makins recreation ground, off Greys Road.

The new skate park, which will replace the existing dilapidated facility, will have sunken concrete obstacles rather than hollow metal ones and will cater for BMX bikers, skateboarders and roller skaters. It is hoped construction work will begin this year.

Colin Brathwaite, chairman of the Henley Skatepark Initiative, said: “We have taken another giant step towards creating a safe, free-to-use, family orientated sports facility for Henley. At the outset of this project we set ourselves a very ambitious target. Many thought we were crazy, many thought we were wildly ambitious but many more believed in us.

“With the award of this marvellous grant, our belief has been vindicated and our ambition is close to being realised.

“We have come so far, we have achieved so much, but there still some more work to do in order to cross the finish line. We still need to raise a bit more money.

“The skate park we create will be in existence for decades. When you consider the number of people it will serve annually, and divide the total cost by the lifespan, a skate park is clearly a very cost effective solution, providing valuable recreational facilities for any community.”

Last year the project received a £100,000 grant from South Oxfordshire District Council from its communities capital grants scheme while the town council has pledged another £75,000. The volunteer group has raised another £5,000 from private donors.

Town councillor Stefan Gawrysiak, who has supported the project from the start, said: “I’m ecstatic for the young people of Henley and also the middle-aged and older people who will use this fantastic facility.

“It has taken a long time, perhaps too long, and it has had considerable opposition but we have prevailed at the end of the day.

“It will be wonderful for Henley. We have got hockey, cricket, football, rugby, rowing and now we have got a world class wheeled sports facility. It has always been our hope that we start creating Olympians in this field as well.”

Alison Selfe, Sport England's strategic grants manager, said: “On behalf of Sport England, I would like to say congratulations to you and everyone else involved in the project. This is our contribution towards the sporting legacy of the London 2012 Olympics and the Paralympic Games for your community.”

The cost of the project has increased since the completion of the tender process in December 2013 in line with the rising cost of raw materials.

The council is also planning to transform the recreation ground with landscaping, a path, semi-mature trees, shrubs, benches, bins and, possibly, a water fountain.

The Henley Skatepark Initiative is urging people to donate to the project. Call Henley Town Council on (01491) 576982 or email info@henleyskatepark.org



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