Investigation as skatepark row continues

INVESTIGATIONS are taking place today into whether community leaders acted incorrectly in approving a £140,000 skatepark project for Felixstowe.A local government Ombudsman has started inquiries following a complaint from residents of maladministration against Suffolk Coastal.

INVESTIGATIONS are taking place today into whether community leaders acted incorrectly in approving a £140,000 skatepark project for Felixstowe.

A local government Ombudsman has started inquiries following a complaint from residents of maladministration against Suffolk Coastal.

The officer has spent some time at the council going through its procedures and paperwork, and is also meeting with the protesters and visiting the site.

Barry Farr, chairman of the Cavendish Park Residents' Association, said: “We were unhappy right from the start about the way this issue was handled. There was a lot of incorrect information given to the committee which decided the application and we can prove that.

“We are pleased the Ombudsman has agreed to investigate, but we do not expect permission to be withdrawn even if he agrees with our case and finds in our favour.

“However, we could take the moral high ground and ask the council to withdraw it and start again.”

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The Ombudsman's decision is not expected to be known for sometime.

Meanwhile, residents continue to be concerned about the proposals for the skatepark on open space in Grange Farm Avenue.

Louise Boyt, of the Grange Farm residents' association, said: “I would be interested to know who these fundraisers are and where they live - would they be so keen to raise money for a project such as this if it were only 50m from their homes?”

Skateboarder Lee Blackwell said: “We are not trying to cause problems and those people who come along just want to practise their sport - we are sportsman just trying to get the facilities we need.”

A Suffolk Coastal spokesman said: “Officers from this council are meeting with someone from the Ombudsman's office and helping provide whatever information is required. We look forward to receiving the results of this investigation in due course.”

Do you think Orwell Green is the right place for a skatepark? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

FACTFILE: Felixstowe skatepark

Youngsters began campaigning for a skatepark in Felixstowe in 1983 - many of those now involved are children of those who first wanted the facility.

The main problem over the years has been finding a site which would be easy for the young people to reach and can be supervised and safe, and which also is far enough away from residents' homes because of concern over noise and youngsters gathering.

Investigations found Brackenbury Sports Centre or Langer Park would be the best site, but Suffolk Coastal rejected both.

Councillors have now agreed a 20m by 30m skateboarding area to be built 1.2m below ground level and enclosed on two sides and surrounded by a footpath in Grange Farm Avenue. There will be floodlighting until 8.30pm daily plus CCTV and an alcohol ban.

The project is expected to cost £140,000 to £180,000 and a fundraising group of parents and young people - based at the Level2 youth centre - has been set up to raise the money.

The group already has £85,000 pledged from councils and is planning to apply to the lottery and other grant-giving bodies for help.

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