Greenwich Council will not be reopening the skate park in Charlton Park yet – despite an offer from one of the campaigners who pushed for the facility to be created to help it keep riders more than two metres apart.
The skate park opened in October 2017 to replace a facility in Woolwich that had been demolished by a developer. The gates were closed when lockdown began in March, and high fencing has been put up to deter riders from getting into the site.
With lockdown easing, some outdoor sports have resumed – such as tennis in Maryon Park – including skateboarding, and Skateboard England has produced guidelines for riders to stick to.
However, the Charlton skate park remains closed. Frustrated skaters have been pushing down the fences and riding anyway, and the skate park has been a focus of attention for local police, to the bemusement of some passers-by.
Just the 7 police officers currently deployed to emptying the skate park. Cant help thinking that posting the Skateboard England guidelines around the entrances and removing the fences would make more sense. pic.twitter.com/xOqhQeDLSs
— Paul Chapman (@PauleecSE7) May 24, 2020
“We’d like to open the skatepark now, and implement social distancing measures,” he said. “Seems to make more sense to do this than have the kids knock the fences down and go anyway, then have police and council workers down to clear the place out and put the fences back up. That’s money down the drain.”
A Greenwich Council spokesperson said: “The safety of residents remains our primary focus and in line with government guidance, our playgrounds, outdoor gyms and games areas are still closed, with the exception of tennis courts.
“These areas can encourage large gatherings and though measures are being eased, we still need to observe social distancing and can only meet with up to five other people outside of our household while outdoors.
“Thank you to our residents for their patience during this time; we look forward to welcoming residents back to the skate park, when it is safe to do so, as we recognise it is a much-loved facility.”
But Hopper responded: “Government guidance is that outdoor sports can take place. This has been the case since 13th May. The skate park is not a playground, outdoor gym or ‘games area’. It is a sporting facility.
“You do not need to touch anything, like playgrounds or outdoor gyms, or interact with other riders, so risk of transmission is extremely low.”
He added: “We need to give the users of the facility a chance to show they can adhere to social distancing measures as proposed by the governing body. Unfortunately prejudices are rife about skate park users. There appears to be no exception in this case.
“I have proposed to the council that we can tape off areas two metres apart where riders stand whilst waiting for their run, just like people are doing at supermarkets. Perhaps we could also put the picnic tables away to discourage gathering at the site.
“We’d encourage the public to contact the council to have open the facility so that our youth, who are in dire need of some safe outdoor activity to channel their energies, have that outlet.”
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