Petworth Youth Association has been made ‘skatepark scapegoats’

The public meeting in The Leconfield Hall
The public meeting in The Leconfield Hall

CONCERNS expressed by Petworth Youth Association over plans for a skatepark at the Sylvia Beaufoy Centre have been blamed for the shock ’no’ decision from Chichester District Council (CDC).

But at a public meeting in The Leconfield Hall called by town councillors, who are leading the plans, youth association chairman Clive Fish told the 50 strong audience: “We are totally in agreement that we do want a skate park in Petworth.”

Referring to an 11th hour request from CDC for comments from the Association ahead of its cabinet meeting to discuss the skatepark, Mr Fish said: “We were asked to make comments which we did. The concerns expressed were brought out to yourselves on numerous occasions. It just seems a lot of negativity has been levelled against us.”

He added: “It seems we have been made the scapegoats.”

Town council chairman Chris Kemp told him: “Your one opinion seems to have carried more weight than all the professionals.”

Project leader Roger Hanauer added: “It’s not a straight fight, there are things going on behind the scenes.”

He added: “A vociferous minority are denying the silent majority what they deserve.”

Town councillor Michael Peet outlined the history of Petworth’s fight for a skate park which started in 2003. It was taken on again by the town council in October 2014. It has come up with plans for a state-of-the art £60,000 concrete construction facility.

He said the town council had identified ‘overwhelming support’ and had carried out consultation and detailed need, feasibility and impact studies.

Members were shocked at CDC’s decision not to give the go ahead for its land to be used at the Sylvia Beaufoy centre, he said: “It has not conducted itself with honour and we have lost an unfair fight, but we are not going to let things lie.”

One member of the public said ‘a whole generation has been lost’.

“My son is now 25. He was nine when he thought he would get a skate park and these young people are now producing the next generation who want one.”

Another said he had four sons who were all mad keen skateboarders travelling to Horsham and Billingshurst: “A facility like this would have an amazing impact on the youth of Petworth and their friends coming here and an impact of the businesses.”

Town councillors asked people to sign their petition and lobby the leader of CDC and the cabinet members. They said CDC standing orders meant the cabinet decision could not be overturned for six months. The three day time slot to have the decision ‘called in’ had now passed.

There was recourse to the Ombudsman for members of the public, but not through the town council.

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