Report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place)
To consider the above petition, bearing 1,425 signatures, which has been submitted by Councillor K Sandhu, an Earlsdon Ward Councillor, who has been invited to the meeting for the consideration of this item along with the petition organiser.
The Cabinet Member for Policing and Equalities considered a report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place) which responded to a petition requesting the Council to renovate the War Memorial Skatepark.
A petition bearing 1,425 signatures had been submitted and supported by Councillor Dr Sandhu, an Earlsdon Ward Councillor. Mrs Cowley-Haselden and Miss Cowley-Haselden, the petition organisers and spoke on behalf of petitioners. Councillor Dr Sandhu was unable to attend the meeting, but was represented by Councillor Gittins, who spoke in support of the petition. The petition read:
“We are a campaign to renovate the War Memorial Skatepark as it is not fit for purpose because of its age, lack of repair and limited size. In its current state it is unsafe and cannot accommodate the number of skatepark users. Please support us in trying to improve the skatepark; making it bigger and better for all of us on wheels in Coventry (and beyond). We want a skatepark we can be proud of”.
The report indicated that the skatepark was constructed in 2000 at a cost of approximately £100,000 and includes a half pipe, two quarter pipes, two jump boxes, two 25-degree flat ramps and a grind rail. The facilities are inspected on a weekly basis and repairs / replacements are undertaken as and when necessary to maintain equipment and associated infrastructural features in a safe and useable condition. In addition, an annual independent inspection is undertaken by an external playground inspector. Recent inspections have found that whilst the facility is nearing the end of its anticipated life, it is still within practicable use. Some items are showing signs of wear and tear, with minor repairs required in relation to the concrete elements. Inspections have confirmed that the skatepark is in a safe and usable condition. It is recognised that the design and layout of the facility is now somewhat dated and has limited appeal to the older youths as it is not considered very challenging by modern skatepark standards.
The Cabinet Member noted that when external or internal inspections are undertaken, consideration is also given to the serviceable life expectancy of the facility, usually on an item by item basis, as not all equipment needs to be replaced at the same time. In these cases, recommendations are made as to what items should be considered for replacement or improvement and the works are then included in the play area maintenance programme.
The report advised that during 2015/16, the Parks Service operational budget was reduced by £1m from 2016. As part of its financial strategy, the service now reviews the replacement of play equipment and youth provision, including skateparks, as and when its practicable life ends. This review will be on an item by item and site by site basis and will take into consideration cost, remaining equipment / features and location to other similar facilities.
A full refurbishment of this skatepark would cost approximately £150k to £200k to complete. The Parks Service does not have the existing resources to undertake this proposal, and do not consider this is necessary at this time as all the equipment is still in a safe and usable condition and within practicable use. The option to remove the skatepark has been considered. However, this would result in the gradual further and overall reduction in skateboarding and overall youth provision as the nearest other skareboarding facility is located at the Alan Higgs Sports Centre, Allard Way, Coventry, and falls outside its catchment area.
Mrs Cowley-Haselden advised the Cabinet Member that the petitioners would welcome the opportunity to work with the Council to try to identify other sources of funding which could be used to renovate and extend the skatepark and that should the required funding be achieved, to seek the Council’s support for required works to be carried out.
RESOLVED that, the Cabinet Member for Policing and Equalities:
1. Considered the content of the petition and notes the concerns of the petitions.
2. Notes that inspections of the skateboard park have identified that the equipment is still within its practicable life.
3. Notes that the skateboarding facility falls outside the catchment area of the nearest other similar facility.
4. Agrees that the skateboarding facility be retained and that features be replaced as and when they reach the end of their practicable life and be funded through a combination of external funding and existing budget provision.
5. Requests that officers work with the skateboarding group, and any other group associated with it, to help identify other sources of funding and if gained, look to replace the facility in advance of when it may otherwise be replaced.