23rd May 2001
Vansittart Rec Index
Congratulations are due to the Royal Borough
for their innovative scheme at Vansittart Road Recreation Ground.
A Skate Park, a toddlers' play area featuring items such as a
roundabout, slides and swings, all brightly painted and complete
with safety matting beneath. A mass planting of bushes and large
trees, fencing and pathways, and even picnic tables and seating.
A perfect venue for the yobs and vandals.
Brightly painted play equipment
for the very young
One of two smashed up bikes lies
with construction rubble
Already local residents are expressing concern about the safety
of the area. The thinking behind a Skate Park next to a toddler's
play area leaves one baffled.
This week, even before the facility had officially opened, loud-mouthed
yobs were cursing and swearing, smoking who knows what, and generally
making a thundering nuisance of themselves while mothers with
very young children tried to play just feet away. That's not
recreation in such an atmosphere!
before being taken away.
The metal ramps in The Skate Park
Graffiti is already evident, there are two smashed up bikes -
presumably stolen - and it is just a matter of time before thousands
of pounds worth of damage is done to the extensive plantings
of trees and bushes.
At night intimidating gangs of young people gather with nothing
better to do than to drink, smoke and cause damage. The Skate
Park features several ramps. These are steel plate and the noise
of crashing and banging can be heard hundreds of yards away late
into the evening.
We have already seen how graffiti
is ignored by the Borough for months on end. Doubtless the
further damage that will shortly be caused will be left unrepaired
for equally as long.
The 'Guidelines' posted on the fence at the Skate Park make interesting
reading. Apart from the expected 'Use the facilities at your
own risk' and 'Appropriate clothing must be worn at all times',
the notice also states that:
facility must be used for its intended purpose only.
This is a no smoking area.
In the interests of safety, please do not bring dogs, glass,
alcohol or litter into the area.
There is also a warning about not using
the facility in the wet.
Reassuringly, telephone numbers are also given for the nearest
hospital (!) and for Leisure Services in Maidenhead (01628 796227)
to whom damage should be reported.
I suspect this will be a busy line...
This is all very well.
The question must be, "Where
is the supervision?" Who will
ensure that the facility is used in a considerate manner? Who
will ensure the above guidelines are observed? Who will ensure
that parents and children are not put at risk or suffer extensive
verbal or even physical abuse? What steps are the Borough taking
to prevent vandalism and to protect rate payers from the inevitable
additional expense of extensive and regular repairs? Or will
the facility be left to deteriorate, its only benefit being to
provide an abandoned corner for drug users?
So congratulations are due to the Borough. Many thousands of
pounds expended and not a scrap of security to protect the investment.
A report in August 2000 suggested that the facility will be locked
after a certain time in the evenings and will be fenced to 3m
high. Perhaps the three metre fence was intended to be part of
the 'challenging equipment for young people' also proposed at
the time. As of today, there is no sign of any high fencing,
the idea has been scrapped, not that it would have served a ha'p'orth
of purpose anyway, it being either scaled with ease, or smashed
Apparently the area is to be locked at 9.00 at night by the Parks
Dept. in the course of their rounds and chains are to be placed
across the ramps to discourage use. Chains being clanged on metal
plates. Hardly wind chimes!
As one of the men working there today said: "I give it a
Update 24th May 2001
A visit at lunchtime today showed substantial
amounts of litter strewn around the site after just a day or
so of use. Young people were still using the ramps at 12.15am.
The sides of the ramps have not been filled in, though it may
be planned, and litter such as beer cans and soft drinks bottles
were strewn throughout he area. Graffiti, some of it obscene,
has already been scrawled on the undersides of the ramps and
Local residents are so concerned that demands
for the Skate Park to be moved are being considered.
This subject has been updated
5th June Update