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Skating on dangerous site - care urged

PUBLISHED: 23:58 26 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:36 03 March 2010

FEARS youngsters could be seriously hurt at Ipswich Skatepark have been voiced today only two days after its official opening.

This week the skatepark beside Stoke Bridge is packed with hundreds of children and teenagers desperate to use the new facility and show off their skills.

FEARS youngsters could be seriously hurt at Ipswich Skatepark have been voiced today only two days after its official opening.

This week the skatepark beside Stoke Bridge is packed with hundreds of children and teenagers desperate to use the new facility and show off their skills.

It is a long-awaited success but it seems that safety is still a message those responsible for the park are struggling to get across.

On Sunday a teenage boy was taken to hospital with injuries sustained while skating on the park and last month three boys suffered broken arms after using the skate park before it was opened.

While the volunteers are doing all they can at the park supervision is an on-going problem.

The purpose built park was erected after a three year campaign and was supported by many in the community including The Evening Star.

It is a much-needed facility and came about after a partnership was formed between the Ipswich Skate Park Appeal and Ipswich Borough Council.

But as these pictures show skaters are risking serious injury by ignoring safety advice at the park and not wearing the right protection gear. In addition to the potential for accidents on the skatepark there are also concerns being raised about the need for a crossing at Stoke Bridge with so many youngsters attempting to get across the road.

Tina Wiles, secretary of the appeal, said: "It's great to see the park open and we were inundated with kids wanting to use the park but safety is a big issue and one we want to address.

"Everything is done voluntarily here and while we issue the rules of the park to all members it is hard to supervise 24 hours a day.

"I am amazed how many children come down here without the proper safety kit and I would like to see more parents involved to help supervise and to make sure their children are safe. This place is concrete and injuries can be really nasty.

"Fundamentally the park is unsupervised. We have park supervisors made up of the older youths and they have had first aid training but I would ideally like to have someone here all the time.

"At the moment we just have so many kids coming along and on the first Saturday we had 108 children here by 11am so it is difficult to get anything in place at the moment."

There are rules that members are issued with when they join the club but there is no way of enforcing these rules which state that helmets and pads must be worn at all times.

Tim Clarke, 29, from Newcastle had no protective gear on and was skating on the park.

He said: "It is only head injuries I worry about but I forgot my helmet today. I do not wear it always though. I think it should be your own choice if you wear the gear. You are soon aware of the risks the first time you hurt yourself."

Tom Howgego, 18 said it was hard to make people wear helmets.

"A lot of riders do not wear the gear and they put themselves at risk. But it is hard for everyone to enforce the rules and make everyone wear a helmet."

Nic Smith-Howell is a staff nurse at Ipswich Hospital and has treated patients with skating injuries.

"The problem is that it is not trendy to wear all the right stuff. But with high impact falls the resulting injuries can be very nasty. It would be really good to get the park supervised full-time but this is obviously a resource problem. So we wait with baited breath to see if it happens," he said.


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