Anger over skatepark site row

LEISURE chiefs were today accused of ignoring the highest scoring site in a survey of possible skatepark venues – choosing a "totally unsuitable" one instead.

LEISURE chiefs were today accused of ignoring the highest scoring site in a survey of possible skatepark venues - choosing a "totally unsuitable" one instead.

Consultants were brought in at taxpayers' expense to analyse eight potential parcels of land for a £110,000 venue for skateboarders, in-line skaters and BMX enthusiasts at Felixstowe.

Top of the rankings with 71 points was Brackenbury Sports Centre, with Langer Park a very close second with 69.

But Conservative-controlled Suffolk Coastal and Felixstowe Town Councils are backing the third-ranked area at Orwell Green - with residents up in arms, claiming it will ruin their quality of life and be a nightmare.

Councillor Mike Ninnmey is now calling for Brackenbury in High Road East to be reconsidered and believes it is the best site.

"The survey looked at the same criteria for each site and awarded marks on how good they were for noise, location, car parking, access, CCTV and other issues," said Mr Ninnmey.

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"Brackenbury came top and it is rather puzzling why it is not even being considered.

"With the sports centre on the site, there is the possibility of charging, CCTV, toilets, and supervision are available - which makes it safest of them all - and car parking, while there is none of these at Orwell Green.

"If we are talking about the most appropriate site, best long-term investment, value for money and protecting the kids, it has to be the sports centre."

He believed a 43m by 17m skatepark could be built between the centre and all-weather outdoor area, with access through the centre to control times of use, numbers, charge admission, keep alcohol out and avoid gangs gathering.

"As I understand it, the only concern about Brackenbury is noise - but I don't believe sound barriers to control noise have even been considered," he said.

"At Orwell Green the council is talking about digging the skatepark into the ground or building earthmounds. At Brackenbury, the wall of the sports centre would absorb the sound and baffle boards or barriers could be put around the other edges with no great construction works."

The analysis for Suffolk Coastal also looked at Gosford Way, Allenby Park, Coronation Sports Ground, Eastward Ho, which all scored low.

Langer Park - youngsters' favourite site - scored high and has most of the facilities needed, while Cavendish Park and Orwell Green, two very different sites with separate issues, were judged bizarrely as one venue and came third.

Irene O'Connor, of the action group fighting the suggestion of a 42m by 20m skatepark at Orwell Green said: "We are not against a skatepark on a suitable site somewhere, but this will be just a few metres from our homes and will ruin the quality of life here.

"We already have enough vandalism and trouble with gangs of youths without attracting them from all over the town to meet here."

Doreen Savage, cabinet member for young people, stressed no decision has been made and it is "just a suggested site" and consultation is under way.

Council officials say Brackenbury has not been pursued because houses are less than 50m away and could suffer noise.

n What do you think of the choice of site? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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