Skateboarders speak out against Norwich city centre bans

Many areas of Norwich, including around the war memorial and City Hall, may see skateboarding banned with those flaunting the ban given police cautions. Many areas of Norwich, including around the war memorial and City Hall, may see skateboarding banned with those flaunting the ban given police cautions.

Friday, June 20, 2014
12:08 PM

Skateboarders are accusing council chiefs of being heavy-handed over plans to ban skateboarding in the centre of Norwich.

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But while skateboarders fight back most agree that the city’s war memorial is not the place for skateboarding which is being damaged by the activity.

Many areas of Norwich, including around the war memorial and City Hall, may see skateboarding banned with those flaunting the ban given police cautions.

Bylaw could ban skateboarders from Norwich city centre

The council’s approach is deemed too “heavy-handed” by skate shop owner Sam Avery, who runs Drug Store skate shop in Pottergate.

While he agrees skating on the war memorial should be banned, he said: “Norwich is a sizeable area where it is possible to build skateparks. Travelling to the skatepark in Eaton is an hour each way.

“The main reason the skatepark wasn’t built on the wasteland under the Magdalen Street flyover was that they need access to clean under the flyover bridge. I have never seen anyone under there though.”

Norwich City Council leader Brenda Arthur denied the new bylaw was excessive and said previous appeals to skaters had failed.

“I’ve seen people on the corner of City Hall nearly knocked over by skateboarders. We want to bring tourists to the city. It’s a top 10 shopping destination, and we have to make it somewhere where people can walk safely and so we felt this was about – fairly tightly – protecting the heart of our beautiful city.”

Alan Hewitt, committee member of the Royal British Legion in Norwich, was concerned at the lack of respect shown towards the memorial.

Mr Hewitt, 42, said: “I do agree with the ban, I don’t think the skateboarders should go on the memorial.

“I think some people don’t appreciate the memorial. I don’t think some youngsters actually respect it.”

But he sympathised with the skateboarders saying: “It’s a shame that half a dozen spoil it for others.”

Student Alex Eglington, 21 of Aylsham, agreed with the council’s proposal for the memorial but did not see the skatepark at Eaton Park as a viable option. “You just can’t use Eaton Park. It is jam-packed with little kids.”

He suggested designated “street spots” that replicate park benches and ledges would provide the variety people seek on the sidewalks.

PROBLEMS FACED IN OTHER TOWNS AND CITIES

Manchester City Council introduced a ban on skateboarding in the city centre after damage was reported to Exchange Square costing between £70,000 and £80,000 to repair. A petition launched by the UK Skateboarding Association argued the bylaws contradicted the government’s goals to promote a healthy lifestyle. 


In 2010, Northampton Borough Council sought approval from the government to put restrictions on skateboarding in multi- storey car parks.


In St Helens on Merseyside in February 2014 a bylaw preventing skateboarding in pedestrian zones in the town centre reportedly left skateboarders feeling “victimised”. 


In 2014 a proposal was retracted by the Bristol mayor banning activities such as skateboarding and having barbecues in the city parks.

42 comments

  • @ImTheRealFaZe - I'm not entirely sure i understand your statement? You think skateboards are made of glass so leave glass on the memorial? Or you think that putting glass on the skate park is some what similar to metal on a memorial? I am part of the ParkourFreerunning community here in Norwich, and 100% agree skateboarders shouldn't skate about on the memorial, the same as i preach to people who who jumpclimb on the memorial. but i believe there is a difference between providing a place to skate in the city centre and fining people for not providing an alternative area. Alot of skateboarders don't have alot of money, and getting a bus any where is hard, and if they do own a car, it doesn't mean they have money... i own a car, i don't have money to blow on 'official' clubs... personally i think this is the wrong way to go about it and there are alternatives to deter skateboarders that dont already take money away from those who dont actually have money only because a bit of wood with wheels under their feet went on a bit of concrete that symbolised something they don't understand...

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    Andy

    Monday, June 23, 2014

  • I agree mr mayhem, what there doing is plain-right disrespectful and as you stated 'perhaps someone should put broken glass on their skatepark' because that is exactly what they are doing to the war memorial.

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    ImTheRealFaZe

    Monday, June 23, 2014

  • the skateboarders are the wrong do-ers here and should be grateful that they are not in trouble.

    solid-board_500_copyright

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    ImTheRealFaZe

    Monday, June 23, 2014

  • This is ridiculous! There are so many faults with norwich and skateboarding isn't one of them. Everyone who is being negative against skateboarders are probably people who don't skate or know anyone who skates or understand why people even skate for. And to build another skatepark won't stop people from skating around Norwich. I have a few friends who skates for the fun of riding a deck not just to do tricks. Skateboarding is a great exercise and it's environmentally friendly! I'd rather see kids progress on a skateboard learning new things, then seeing young kids sitting on a bench drinking cider! A few weeks ago my missus got started on by a group of 40 year old drunk footballers because she wanted to get in her car. Now she doesn't like to leave the house when football is on.. Maybe there should be a ban on drinking in norwich as I see more offence from drunk people than I do skateboarders!

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    Ned stark

    Sunday, June 22, 2014

  • As someone who used to skateboarded everyday I think it's ridiculous these guys want to be pandered to, every time I'm walking past the forum to work I see them getting in peoples way, and I've had many near misses and with them flying down the corner near the bus station there's nothing there to even trick on, it's just flat ground (and I've never even seen any of them come close to landing a heelflip, the board just goes flying off and once it went flying into a toddler who caught a nose bleed and they gave the mother attitude). Basically they're fully aware they're congregating is areas they shouldn't and getting in peoples way and generally being dis-respectful, there's so many places that're out of people way where they could chose but it's just a case of them wanting to show off and feel rebellious, I'd up it and slap them with a £20 fine or something for the first time.

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    Rosso Cosso

    Saturday, June 21, 2014

  • There does need to be more done to provide facilities for skateboarders. having said that they still wouldn't be used by some as some wish to hang out in the centre complete with board. Do they cause damage? Yes, just look at the marble sculptures on Hay Hill which initially were the subject of skateboarders attentions. Are they a danger? depends where they are but I would suggest skateboarding directly outside doorways such as City Hall's and Tesco's corner entrance is dangerous. If the byelaws cover danger to pedestrians and road users (I had a skateboard go close by my car when the user failed to stop it) and to property the law abiding ones would have nothing to complain about.

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    Mr. Raspberry

    Saturday, June 21, 2014

  • I disagree with the bye Law, its very harsh and objective. There are reports that the brick used for the war memorial isnt new and are taken from the previous build. i agree however with the ban on skating at the war memorial but to bring a law that stops skateboarding in the city centre is wrong. Its a healthy activity that involves the use of the world around and encourages you to think creatively. As a skateboarder i feel victimised. to point at skateboarding as to blame is pathetic. The war memorial is used by all, look at the foot traffic past it everyday too? surly it wont stay perfect forever. My friends and i skateboard as its fun, we are outside looking for new things and searching the landscape.

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    callumpainter95

    Saturday, June 21, 2014

  • It seems to me that we tell young people to get out more and exercise away from screens and when they do, instead of enabling them to do this appropriately, we stop them. For heavens sake get some funding to build a skatepark area in Norwich. No one wants damage to the War Memorial and Sam has said it could be skate proofed. To me we should look to get a win win situation. Skateboarders I've met are generally okay and just want to skate and I'm over 50!

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    JulesofNorwich

    Saturday, June 21, 2014

  • I too have seen skateboards landing on the war memorial and once told them not to do it. I was told that the area that they skate near the forum is owned by the church. I do think some appear to be so bad on a stakeboard I fear a less mobile person being hit by one. I agree with the bylaw proposal but they should find another area for skateboard to try their tricks

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    Yellow Fox

    Saturday, June 21, 2014

  • I was in San Francisco recently and saw a copper tell a skateboarder off for skate boarding on a very wide pavement (sorry sidewalk). The miscreant a few moments later went off skate boarding on the main road dodging the traffic. He was well in his 20's! A lot of the skateboarders I have seen in the centre of Norwich are old enough to know better. Many look older than 18, they are adults. If there is a skateboarding park at Eaton then they should skateboard there using the roads, the skateboard has 4 wheels, and it's good a way of getting some practice in.

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    Ray Newman

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • I hope council chiefs rethink the idea of a bylaw. I'm sure skateboarding actually accounts for very little of the damaged caused and it seems a little unfair to imply blame in this way. Surely working with young people to educate and find alternatives is a more proactive and long term solution.

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    marie1982

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Well done to you and your group then Sam. Norwich has loads of roads with very wide grass verges-for the life of me I cannot see why these cannot have cycle paths which would double as skate paths ( not the ramps, walls and stuff I know) for boards and inliners and those scootery jobs that little kids ( and not so little kids ) seem to favour. Even if there are trees, no reason why a path cannot wend around them. Better than being on the road. I still think there is a lack of equality in provision of sporting facilities and not a great deal of thought is given to how to make more facilities accessible to girls. They should not be intimidated-but some are. And I think parents are less likely to allow younger teenage girls to use unsupervised sporting facilities. I await the day when we see skate boarders going down Gurney Road and Ketts Hill 70s California style ; )

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    Daisy Roots

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • blackcab

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Norwich has long been known for its quirkiness and its radical ways, often using the phrase 'do different'. Lets not go down the route of the other cities mentioned in this article by imposing a ban. Lets celebrate the war memorial and all that it stands for and help re-educate anybody(not just the small minorityof skaters) who misuses it. Let's also celebrate the wide variety of healthy activities that the younger generation take part in. I'm sure that the brave soliders who fought for future generations would much prefer kids to be out on the streets having fun and keeping fit rather than kids being bored and mugging old ladies!

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    lynnemeredith1979

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • I see skateboarders a lot and I have no problem at all with them. They certainly appear to have greater respect then a large chunk of the rest of society that I'm aware of. I think I'm being pretty objective here - I suspect I have a better overview then some.

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    blackcab

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • By "skate-proofed" we simply suggested a different kind of flooring. Something a little rougher that would not be pleasant under our little wheels. It would have had no effect on the overall look of the area or its use by the public.

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    Sam Avery

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • mr mayhem, try and lay down flat in a cool and darklened room, or seek professional help. Cllr.s have paid lipservice to skateboarders and politicians such as Charles Clarke had fine pictures and publicity out of these young lads who don't want to be shunted out of sight, but skate in the City centre. If City Hall would have provided a skate park in Chapelfield, this damage would not even be debated here. And, yes, old stones have been reused in this 8.5 million redevelopment, money for Carters from ol' rope.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • So you advocate children playing in broken glass Mr Mayhen? What a reasonable and level headed attitude! Have you considered that maybe nobody ever taught these kids what the memorial stands for? That people don't necessarily read every inscibed piece of stone or plaque in the streets? Have you, in fact, thought at all, except to conjour a hateful response? Does the thought of young people falling in broken glass please you? If you want to see where the problems in our society are rooted i suggest you look into a mirror. Also, the skatepark at Eaton has been covered in broken glass several times, never by the users of the park (ie skateboarders BMXers etc) and each time the place is swept clean by the next group to go there. .

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    Sam Avery

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Why should something like a war memorial have to be skater-proofed, surely the fact that it is a war memorial should tell them that it is extremely disrespectful, perhaps someone should put broken glass on their skatepark.

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    mr mayhem

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Sorry for all the comments but one last thing that has not been reported is that the skateboarders involved in the eaton park project offered to help make the memorial Un-skatable. During a meeting at city hall we offered to sit in on the design meetings for the memorial gardens and advise on how it could be simply skate-proofed. For free. Out of a genuine desire to do the right thing and be respectful of the people who died on behalf of others. Needless to say we were never consulted about the re-development

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    Sam Avery

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Skateboarders are no more of a danger to pedestrians than any other road or pavement users Union Jack. This blanket blaming of a large group of individuals is nonsense. It's like saying all football supporters are hooligans or that all old people are grumpy Victor Meldrew types. Ridiculous stereotyping because of the actions of a minority. Most skateboarders are very careful when they skate, especially in the streets where there are other people around. We are not some kind of cartoon gang causing havoc in the city! Why shouldn't people who live in Norwich be able to skateboard across town? Ban skateboarding on the memorial by all means but these other surrounding areas proposed have nothing to do with it.

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    Sam Avery

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • And I repeat, why should the council tax payer provide a facility because a bunch of lads are making a nuisance of themselves? Why them and not funding activities for those who quietly get on with what they enjoy doing and pay for it out of their own pocket? It is a dodgy principle. If the council was to invite potential users of a facility to put their names and addresses to proposal it might be fairer. I don't see much over wrong with bog standard in line skating or skateboarding on pavements if care is shown and the skater is prepared to be sued for injuries caused. I put it way down the list below the nuisance of heavyweight mobility scooters used by those who are not registered disabled or in possession of proof that they need to use one, and have no insurance.

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    Daisy Roots

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • I think the ban should be extensive. Skateboards endanger pedestrians, and other road users .

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    Union Jack

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • i feel i should also add that i said "the best part of an hour" to walk to eaton from where i live (NR1) however if people want to be pedantic about minor details then imagine being a teenage skateboarder who lives in Thorpe or Lakenham. Walking to Eaton park for a quick fun skate with your mates after school isn't really realistic is it? you'd be late home for tea and then you'd be in trouble from your mum! thats worse than an ASBO for most kids

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    Sam Avery

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • this damage was not caused by skateboarders, nor was it caused recently. if you go back and look at the photographs of the grand re-opening in 2011 the damage is already there. most of the stones were not new. why this is being made a fuss of now is a matter of opinion but the current strong feelings about war memorials with it being 100 years since WW1 and 70 years since D-Day seem to be a strange coincidence

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    Sam Avery

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • There is something called "Respect" which is sadly lacking in everyday today.Thhere was a time not that long ago when you would not ride a cycle at night with lights and so on.Skarte Boarding is not alloweded in the Forum Area,notices placed around,but not enforced and not respected ! Law breaking is exactly that so show respect for the law

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    Albert Cooper

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • And ban mobility scooters from the pavements while we're in the banning mode.

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    Phyllis Tyne

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • @Whiley Boy - pavement cycling is already illegal (unless there's a cyclepath or similar), so there is already a "ban". Another ban will not make any difference.

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    GWhizz

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Oh and also, can this ban apply to pavement cyclists too? Regards, Whiley.

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    Whiley Boy

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Mother and I both agree that they should not be allowed to go near the memorial, but the overall ban is on the excessive side. Also, I don't recall Eaton Park being an hour away.

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    Whiley Boy

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Rich Hartt - I have twice chased skateboarders off the memorial. One told me it was none of my business (thought not in those exact words if you get my drift) and had the cheek to hide round the corner of City Hall in St Giles to watch and wait for me to leave before returning - I hid and waited til he came back and chased him off again and waited in plain view til he got fed up and cleared right off. I have also nearly been run down outside Debenhams in Red Lion Street and in St Stephens. There needs to be at least another skatepark the other side of Norwich to Eaton. There used to be a skatepark of sorts in the Sale Road Park on the Heartsease - the concrete "bowl" is now so bad the reinforcing wires are exposed - we need a two-fold approach, restrict skateboards in the busy city centre, and provide facilities...

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    lr

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • The war memorial has been damaged by 'some' activity, but it is repairable. To accuse skaters alone would be incorrect and wrong Spark, its only a minority who don't respect the memorial. And why has the City council not offered its council owned site in Chapelfield, rather than the far away Eaton site, its right next to the inner ring road, perfect for such use. This is down to councillors of all parties who did not realise that young people want to go and meet in Norwich for shopping, socialising and skating with their mates.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Heavy handed, would be even better if they had a kick up the backside. What they have done to the war memorial shows a shocking lack of respect . It's a free for all out there ,about time they clamped down on this.

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    spark

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • There should certainly be a clampdown on pavement cyclists they are an absolute menace and a disgrace for all those law abiding cyclists that observe the traffic laws.

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    blister

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • This is not before time skate boarder are dangerous and should not be allowed on footpaths same for cycles.

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    Johnny Norfolk

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • I think disrespecting the war memorial is a smoke screen - I've never seen skaters do that. They do however congregate at the end of City Hall and I'm sure that is what is annoying the council. It can be mildly annoying like cyclists can be to pedestrians too but I wouldn't ban them either. I think more creative solutions like the 'street spots', perhaps at the side of City Hall and St Giles street, would be a much better approach. Skateboarding should be encouraged as a healthy activity - you never see a fat skateboarder!

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    Rich Hartt

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • It`s no good expecting those charged with keeping peace and harmony on our streets not to have something in their armoury to deal with skateboards with a, " I`ll do what I like attitude," and who cannot be reasoned with. Again, it`s the few that spoil it for the many.

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    BG

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • an hour to get to Eaton Park? Are they going via Ipswich?

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    norwichred

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • I work in the city centre and have done for the last 13 years, I walk through the city to get to work, at lunch and again when I leave. I have not had any bad experiences with skateboarders. If we are going to ban dangerous activities in the city centre, I suggest we start with the aggressive bus drivers who accelerate when they see people crossing.

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    Crazy

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • They should certainly do something about pavement cyclists, they are an absolute menace and will kill either a child or elderly person if nothing is done and I speak as a non car owning cyclist. They bring shame on all real cyclists. London street in particular is becoming to dangerous to use as a pedestrian

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    blister

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • If a bylaw was passed it would be ignored, just like the way cyclist ignore the cycling on paths or with out lights. Give the skateboarders a proper skateboard park, then they will have no excuses

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    Derek McDonald

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Well I drove past North Walsham's skate park the other day and young adults were getting out of cars to use it-which kind of makes me think it would be a deterrent to younger children esp. unattended girls. And also makes me think that if skaters can afford motors they can afford to pay for their own sports at a private facility, just like little girls who want to ride a pony. Show there is a demand or be willing to put a pound in a turnstile and maybe there could be provision made But not expect to chip up walls and benches etc or expect to skate on paths used by pedestrians. I am sympathetic, there are some places where skating and skate boarding would be fine but not street furniture in the city centre.

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    Daisy Roots

    Friday, June 20, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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