Skateboarders speak out against Norwich city centre bans
12:08 20 June 2014
Skateboarders are accusing council chiefs of being heavy-handed over plans to ban skateboarding in the centre of Norwich.
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.
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.