Youths’ skate park bid sparks storm of protest

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a BID by youths to transform wasteland in Marehay into a skateboard park has provoked a storm of protest from residents.

The proposal for the rear of Marehay Miners’ Welfare, which would have seen a skate park, a nature reserve and a sports field, was unanimously opposed at a public meeting last week and has now been abandoned.

A presentation, that included photographs, computer graphics and video footage, was given by Joshua Rogers, 20, and Jamie Wassley, 21, was based on several months’ of research.

Resident Jack Silcock, 70, of Lathkill Drive, said: “A community project in Marehay would be terrific – as long as it’s an enterprise with a common aim, that’s achievable and that brings the community together. This project was the wrong choice. It was divisive from the word go. People were very angry and they were worried about losing value on their properties. The young men were like Daniel in the lion’s den. But they held their own. The opposition was very loud and very strong and absolutely overwhelming.”

Horticulture student Joshua said: “It was literally people shouting at two very young adults. It was very disappointing. There’s a lot of moaning that kids don’t get out enough – but this was a proposal to give kids something to do. Residents said they would rather see houses built there.”

Joshua and Jamie, along with Tom Brentnall, 16, researched Lottery funding and made a study of local skate parks in a bid to show how anti-social behaviour can flourish at parks in out-of-the-way locations. They conducted a survey of local children and negotiated support from local colleges and the Blend Youth Project. Derbyshire County Council youth worker Susan Hadfield gave the trio advice about the presentation. Joshua added: “We are planning on looking for other suitable locations to run such a community project and will be meeting again as a group in the autumn of this year.”

Marehay borough councillor Lindsey Cox said: “There was no planning application, it was just a discussion about a possibility. The key issue was that it would back on to residential properties. I think it was marvellous that the young lads came up with a great idea, but it was probably not in the right location. They did a lot of work.”

Resident Brian Murfin, of Dovedale Close, said other such tracks were well away from houses, but this plan was too close to homes. People were also concerned it might devalue their properties.