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* * * News for 20th June 2007 * * *

Rochester South & Horsted: 20th June 2007

Election Indoor Skatepark Might be Saved!

Unit 1 Skatepark closed by MHS, but Council and young people are working hard to re-open the facility.

The Unit 1 Indoor Skatepark near the Stirling Centre by the Laker Road area, has had a troubled history right from its inception, and has recently had to close.

From the very beginning, when former Warren Wood Councillors Marcus Chambers and Sylvia Griffin brought the directors of the embryo DemonSk8 project into contact with Medway Council, it was a rocky ride. Part of the difficulty was caused by their premises being mostly in Tonbridge and Malling, and only a little of the site fell into the Medway Council area. Such are the vagaries of district boundaries, and this is certainly an odd one!

Anyway, DemonSk8 was launched, but apparently became financially non-viable, and it was taken over by MHS Community Charity. Unfortunately, even they could not maintain its viability, despite the free SkateBus that the council had provided in September 2005 and operating six days a week, and it recently closed its doors.

As the small part of the site that falls within the Medway area lies within Rochester South and Horsted ward, we have been working on this issue, as requested by local young people, for some time. We were pleased to see a petition handed in at a Council meeting by Cllr Les Wicks, the Portfolio Holder for Children's Services.

This petition recently came to the Community Services Scrutiny Committee whose vice-chairman is now none other than our own Sylvia Griffin. The petitioners had set up a charity to support the skatepark's re-opening and had bid for funding to cover the hire deposit, three months' rent, and some equipment improvements. They believed that entry fees would cover the ongoing costs (something that had failed to be achieved in the past) including re-hiring the three former (MHS) staff who ran the facility before its closure.

The Committee decided that, subject to the bid for funding being successul:

Thus there is a good chance that the indoor skatepark will be able to be re-opened. Meanwhile, the outdoor skatepark at Jackson's Fields is currently under construction, and especially as we also strongly supported this, we are keeping watch on its progress with keen interest.

There is capacity for both these facilities; and especially in less kind weather, such as we are experiencing right now (late June 2007), the indoor facility will be most welcome!