Thetford Town Council to manage skate park

The management of a proposed skate park in Thetford will be taken on by the town council when completed, securing the future of the facility for youngsters to enjoy.

The decision was reached at a meeting of the town council following a presentation by Breckland Council officer Rob Leigh who asked for a steer on how much responsibility it was willing to take on.

The project had been requested by youngsters in the town for some years, and following a cash injection of funding from Moving Thetford Forward (MTF) last year is now nearing reality.

At a recent meeting of the MTF board it was suggested the town council may be the best choice to take on future management.

Speaking at the town council meeting last week, Mr Leigh said the site was likely to need little maintenance, with the main costs likely to stem from liability insurance and any repairs, which he expected to be minimal,as well as bin emptying and maintenance of fencing.

'At Moving Thetford Forward views were expressed that people would be best served if it was owned by local people and Thetford Town Council would be the right people going forward,' he said.

Following consultation with young people in and around Thetford last year it was decided not to include bins, lighting or shelter at the concrete site but secure fencing would be needed. Also included would be an excavated or elevated bowl, ramps, grind bars, inclines and steps, storage for brooms and sinage.

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A site close to the Breckland Leisure Centre has been secured and a tender brief is in the process of being put together, the land transfer is ongoing, and consultations had been made with those involved in a similar project in Eaton, Norwich.

Liberal Democrat councillor for the Abbey ward, Mike Brindle, said he was pleased the town council had been brought into the project and added: 'We constantly say we want to be consulted with and it happens rarely.

'I just feel there must be some reason this particular item is being offered when other projects are kept under the control of Moving Thetford Forward. We will want to make this successful but there's a lot of thinking and working before we would say yes, in my opinion.'

Conservative councillor for the Guildhall ward, Derek Mortimer, also expressed caution, although stressed he fully backed the skate park idea.

'With the proximity of the local elections coming up I'm not sure we should make a decision that may burden the new incumbents, if there are any,' he said. 'It's going to be very financially overbearing over time. There will be work and labour which would mean we would need to have an addition to the labour force.'

But Conservative councillor for the Guildhall ward and district councillor, Robert Kybird, said the time had come for the council to take responsibility. 'This has been promised to the youth of Thetford for a number of years and I'm surprised some members here aren't jumping at the chance to have this fully funded,' he said. 'Four other towns in Breckland have already provided skateparks and we're behind the game.'

Independent councillor for the Guildhall ward John Harding added: 'For years the young people have asked for this facility and we have backed them to the hilt. It would be a shame at this stage if we put the trip wire right under their fight.'

Some discussion was also had amongst town councillors as to monies involved but a final decision was made to convey to Breckland an 'unconditional acceptance of takeover on completion'.