Two rival petitions have been doing the rounds for a few weeks over the plans to build a skate park in Charlton Park. Let’s check in and see how they’re doing…
FOR: Show your support for the proposed skate park in Charlton Park: “As local parents, we think Charlton should embrace the exciting idea of having a skate park on its doorstep. The skate park has potential to be great fun for local children, teenagers, and adults as well as encouraging fitness and bringing together people of all ages.” – 605 supporters.
AGAINST: Skateboard Area: Consult Park Users Before Putting it in Charlton Park: – “Local residents view Charlton Park as an oasis of calm at the community’s heart. This is threatened if we don’t do something soon about Greenwich Council’s plans for our Charlton Park to be the site of a skateboard area.” – 28 supporters.
A slam-dunk for the pro-skate park camp? Well, not quite, as the anti-skatepark lobby, which has adopted the name Friends of Charlton Park, has also been door-knocking in the Charlton Lane area. Looking at the “Friends” website, it all feels a bit like a re-run of the NOGOE campaign against the Olympics in Greenwich Park, where a handful of people generated a huge petition by telling visitors the old park would be destroyed by having horses run around it.
Charlton Park is an understated gem, but as one of the area’s best-known venues for Sunday football and other sports, it’s not exactly as tranquil as the petitioners claim it is.
Done properly, a skate park could be an enormous asset. But getting it done properly is the problem. And that doesn’t seem to be happening so far. The one thing both sides agree on is the lamentable lack of consultation by Greenwich Council on the scheme.
Link a skate park in with Charlton Athletic FC, the Charlton Park mini-gym and sports pitches, Meridian Sports Club (with Bridon Ropes FC and Meridian FC), Charlton Lido and the BMX track, plus Blackheath rugby club down the road, there’s potential for a real community built around sport and exercise.
But instead the whole skate park has been treated like a piece of dirt that has to be got off Berkeley Homes’ doorstep in Woolwich, and shoved up the road. Indeed, the council’s attitude to skaters is revealing – associated with the skate park is a plan for a bylaw to ban skateboarding in Woolwich’s General Gordon Square and other open spaces. If Greenwich Council is treating skateboarders in one part of its jurisdiction as criminals, it only has itself to blame if people in a neighbouring area become alarmed at their arrival.
Much of this taps into a wider, deeper malaise in how Greenwich Council relates to its residents that I normally write about elsewhere. But for now the Charlton Champion is considering joining in the petition fun. Titles under consideration include “Dear local councillors – why don’t you tell us what you’re doing about the proposals?”, “How about moving the Ed Stone up the hill from the Thames Barrier industrial estate to the skate park so we can all enjoy it?” and “We’d love a skate park in Charlton Park, but how about one in Eltham Park South too, so the council leader can have one at the end of her road?”.
But so far, the front-runner is: “We’re not that bothered about a skate park in our lovely sunny park, but if you’re going to do it, you’d better do it properly or we’ll hunt you down and build a rubbish one in your front garden, and then fill it with old people complaining about how young people are terrible.” What do you reckon?