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6th July 2001

Vansittart Wrecked?

ROSPA Guidelines

Vansittart Rec Index

A booklet providing guidelines on areas such as these has been published by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. Their recommendations are listed below with our comments in white boxes.

  • Supervision

    The facility will be used by older children who can often present problems for neighbours. Where possible, skateboard areas should be away from playgrounds for very young children but still be visible and capable of informal supervision. If a separate area is not available they should be a safe (obviously visually separate_ distance. High profile sites will reduce the level of vandalism

    If the facility is to be unsupervised, provision needs to be made for informal observation by local authority staff in the area, police, local residents, and passers by. CCTV may be useful in some areas. Local police should be consulted and informed.

    NB Planting may screen facilities when it matures.

    The development of organised clubs for young riders should be encouraged as part of sports, play and youth work programmes. Resources may be required to start and sustain organisations.

The matter of supervision is a major concern of local residents. Whilst it seems that supervision may be provided during the summer holidays, this is only a part of the problem. There remains a large segment of the day - and night - when the facility will inevitably be unattended. It is with this aspect in mind that the location of the Skate Park becomes most relevant.

  • Discourage skating/riding to an from the facility

Easier said than done, although local residents would welcome an effective ban where the skaters are often seen skating at speed on the pavements with little regard for pedestrians of all ages. There are however only a certain number of users who go to and from the Skate Park without due care and it is these who ideally need reminding of their social responsibilities.

  • Orientation should try to avoid dazzle by low sun

Vansittart is orientated almost exactly east-west. The easterly aspect is of no importance, but in the evening the setting sun will be straight in the skaters' eyes.

  • Lighting may be useful for evening use by skaters, but can cause problems to local residents

There is currently no purpose lighting for the skate area.

  • Skaters should be encouraged to police and help train new users and discourage irresponsible users, inappropriate use or vandalism

We look forward to news of such an initiative.

  • Self closing gates

The gate to the skating area is a self closing gate, but it is permanently secured open, and the latch mechanism has been damaged.

  • Child safety
    Cover bare skin and wear minimum protective gear. (Helmet, wrist, elbow, and knee protection)
    Children should be encouraged to:
    Skate within their ability
    Attend training courses
    Never skate on roads, footpaths or near water
    Never skate on their own
    Tell someone where they are going
    Look out for other users
    Jump off equipment before they fall of (!)
    check their equipment regularly

Whilst much of this list is self-evident, it is astonishing just how many children and teenagers ignore the most basic safety precautions. On those occasions when signs have been in place advising that the correct safety gear should be worn, without supervision, the rules will be ignored.

  • Signs should be provided indicating:
    Use by one skater at a time (although this is unlikely to be adhered to - design should allow for multi-use)
    The requirement for protective clothing
    Site ownerships with contact for faults
    Dog ban emblem
    Mis-use may result in a ban
    Contact information for damage and repairs

Temporary signs were displayed in late May but they soon disappeared. They were plastic laminated paper, tied to the fence with string, and were unlikely to survive very long. They didn't!

  • Consideration should be given to:
    Seating (outside the skating area)
    Shelters and shaded areas
    Drinking fountains
    Bicycle racks (highly recommended)
    Litter bins
    First Aid facilities

Of the above only three picnic tables and litter bins have been provided as of July 6th. The picnic tables are in the young children's area, and reports have been received that teenagers have been aggressive and intimidating if asked to move out of the children's area.

  • Soil and mud hazard

Within the area allocated to the Skate Park at Vansittart Recreation Ground on the Goslar Way side there is an stoney area where teenagers sit late into the night, throwing and kicking mud and stones onto the ramps and skating area. If run into, the wheels of skate boards tend to lock up, tipping the rider off the board.

Presumably the seeded areas will grow in due course, but with constant wear from day one, this seems unlikely in the near future, especially in the predominantly dry weather we have had in the last month.

The same problem exists in the children's area where we have seen teenagers quite deliberately throwing stones and clods of mud onto the play equipment. Not in itself a major problem, but yet another irritation that mothers and children should not have to put up with.


Much of the recommendations that ROSPA make have not been implemented. Others were promised, but we have yet to see them. Some of the most important aspects will be impossible to meet on account of the site's location.

Vansittart Recreation Ground Index Page

Read about Windsor and Maidenhead Borough Council's
(failed) plans to build on Vansittart Rec in 1947, 1952 and 1989

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