Red tape puts Midhurst skate park contest fundraiser on hold

Jason Woodman, front left, Stig, centre back and friends who are trying to get a new skate park
Jason Woodman, front left, Stig, centre back and friends who are trying to get a new skate park

The skate boarding competition planned by users to launch a fundraising campaign for new facilities in Midhurst’s Carron Lane is on hold as organisers struggle to meet town council criteria.

Jason Woodman (27) approached councillors last year concerned about the ‘beyond unusable’ state of the skate park and said he was keen to start fundraising for new facilities with their help.

He and fellow skate boarder Stig Else (32) wanted to kick this off on August 27, by resurrecting the competition originally run by the town council. They are also both keen to raise awareness that it was built in memory of skate park campaigner Steve McGill: “We want people to remember this is a memorial park and we want his name to live on in new facilities.”

But their efforts to start fundraising have hit a stumbling block: “The council say they can’t give us a grant because we are individuals and not a recognised group and they want us to pay for public liability insurance,” said Stig. “Now we have been told if we can’t produce a copy of the insurance by the end of this week the event can’t go ahead as scheduled. We’ve decided to postpone, but it will happen later in the year.”

“I asked councillors for help,” said Jason, “but they have put all the responsibility onto us. I don’t want to come across as ungrateful because some of them are very supportive, but we never thought it would be this hard and we thought the council would be more helpful.”

He said he offered to help raise funds because: “My friends and family have kids who will soon start to use the skate park and I don’t want it to become unsafe - it won’t be long before it’s unfit for purpose due to wear and tear.”

Council chairman Mark Purves said: “We are committed to providing this memorial skate park and are aware of the need to refurbish it. We are keen to continue working with Jason and the users to overcome any obstacles, help with the competition in the future and identify sources of funding for new facilities.”

The Midhurst facilities were named the Steve McGill Memorial Skate Park after the keen skateboarder who was killed in a car crash at Easebourne in January 2001.

His mother Linda cut the ribbon to mark the formal opening of the new facilities in November, 11 months after her son was killed with two of his friends.

In his memory, his family and friends had donated more than £2,500 towards the cost of the £28,000 project carried out by Midhurst Town Council. In addition to funding from the town council there was a further grant of some £14,000 from Chichester District Council.

Mrs McGill has joined the skate park users in calling for the town council to support their fund raising bid.

“We as a family would be devastated if the skatepark did not receive funding to secure its future,” she said, ”personally I don’t think the town council is doing enough to raise funds for new equipment, I don’t think it should be left to the users.”

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