Monday, 23 September 2019
SKATEBOARDERS have been blamed for damaging steps outside a Henley church.
Some of the concrete steps outside Christ Church United Reformed Church in Reading Road have been chipped or cracked and some of the slabs have become loose.
Staff at the neighbouring Christ Church Centre say that children and young adults often skate on the steps.
They use a curved slope, which is designed to allow wheelchair access to the centre, as a way to build up speed and the handrails to perform tricks.
Centre manager Vanessa Bird said: “We see skateboarders out there quite frequently. Many of us that work here have been out to ask them to stop and usually they do.
“They use the area where there is the slope or go down the hand rails. It is a problem and it has made quite a lot of the steps unsafe as it does damage them.”
Traffic cones have been used to cordon off the area to prevent pedestrians from using the unsafe steps and to warn them of the danger.
Mrs Bird estimated that it would cost more than £2,000 to carry out repairs.
She said: “We are in the process of getting quotes but it is an expense we cannot afford.
“The money we are spending on fixing steps could be spent on our memory cafe instead. That is for a group for people with dementia and their carers.
“The general upkeep of the centre is high. The costs just keep going up and it’s hard as we are a charity.
“Our main income comes from letting rooms but we do get donations from Christ Church and the town council.”
Glyn Millington, minister of Christ Church, said that while some of the damage to the steps was down to wear and tear it had been made worse by the skateboarders. He said he couldn’t understand why young people would use steps in front of a church instead of the £290,000 skate park at Makins recreation ground.
Rev Millington added: “Some of the youths like to have a go on the steps yet they have a wonderful new skate park nearby.”
The skate park opened in August 2017 following a six-year campaign by the Henley Skatepark Initiative, supported by the town council. It replaced the old skate park, which was 13 years old and near the end of its life. The new concrete facility has sunken obstacles rather than hollow metal ones, which reduces the noise, and caters for BMX bikers, skateboarders and roller-skaters.
It was paid for with a £100,000 grant from South Oxfordshire District Council, £75,000 from both the town council and Sport England and £20,000 from the Thamesfield Youth Association plus £6,000 raised by the initiative.
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