Row over skatepark site

COMMUNITY leaders today dismissed claims they were ignoring the best place for a £110,000 skatepark –claiming the site was "completely unsuitable".Liberal Democrat councillors in Felixstowe wanted Brackenbury Sports Centre to be chosen for the project because it came top in an assessment of a number of potential sites around the town.

COMMUNITY leaders today dismissed claims they were ignoring the best place for a £110,000 skatepark -claiming the site was "completely unsuitable".

Liberal Democrat councillors in Felixstowe wanted Brackenbury Sports Centre to be chosen for the project because it came top in an assessment of a number of potential sites around the town.

They believed it was possible to deal with any noise problems and called on Suffolk Coastal council to abandon plans to use Orwell Green and take a fresh look at the sports centre in High Road East.

But council leader Ray Herring has hit back at the councillors, claiming they were trying to divert attention from the current public consultation on the much-needed facility and were ill-informed.


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He said: "The facts are simple. Our report measured sites on a variety of criteria and Brackenbury came out top by two points, but it has been dropped because it would not meet any of our noise standards.

"There would be little point in pursuing a planning application in the full knowledge that it would be refused.

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"The report was shared with local councillors - a simple request by any of them to council officers would have explained why Brackenbury is unsuitable if they could not understand the findings.

"I am disappointed that they have been more intent on courting publicity than bothering to find out the facts."

The study found a skatepark at Brackenbury would be less than 25 metres away from the nearest houses, with no room to put in any landscaped bunds or obstacles to control the noise.

Suggestions that the sports centre itself could be used as a shield against the noise were also flawed as the building is made out of steel so rather than absorbing the noise it would actually reflect or amplify it.

Mr Herring said: "A lot of time has been spent looking into where this important facility for young people could go and the professional view is that the site on Orwell Green behind the church is the best one.

"This is a sensitive issue - we are trying to strike a balance between locating a facility in a remote area where young people would be vulnerable and putting it so close to residential property that it becomes a nuisance.

"There is a danger of Nimbyism, of people not wanting it in their backyard, and that is why we are trying to consult openly and honestly with everyone on this project. It will help those discussions if the debate is being based on facts rather than misguided opinions."

Residents though are furious at the choice of Orwell Green. They are not against a skatepark in the town, but say the land will be too close to homes and lead to gatherings of gangs, noise and vandalism.

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

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