Charlton Park’s skate park is staying closed for now, council insists

Charlton skate park
Skaters have not let fences deter them from using the skate park

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.

Stuart Hopper, whose School of Skate offers lessons in skateboarding, told The Charlton Champion that he has offered to help the council with keeping riders apart, but has heard nothing back.

“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.”

Greenwich Council social distancing banner
It has been suggested the skate park should have spaces marked out for skateboarders

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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Want to help Charlton Park skate park get lights? Here’s how

Charlton skate park
The Friends of Charlton Park wants to see the skate park lit on winter evenings (photo: Neil Clasper)

Last month, we reported how Greenwich Council says it can’t afford to pay for lighting around the skate park and gym in Charlton Park.

The Friends of Charlton Park aren’t giving up, though – and are looking to get funding from elsewhere. If you’re a regular visitor to Charlton Park in the afternoon or evening, you can help them.

If you pass the skate park and gym between 3pm and 9pm, keep an eye out for how many people are using them – and please fill in this form.

The friends group hopes to be able to demonstrate what should be blindingly obvious – but needs underlining to people who can give money – which is that more people use the skate park and gym when there is light.

Want to help the Friends of Charlton Park put on Parksfest?

The group is also putting on a Parksfest festival around the skate park on Saturday 22 June – if you want to help raise money for it, there’s a Curryoke event on Saturday 16 March at 8pm at Cattleya on Charlton Church Lane. Tickets £25 are email elizabethrj001[at]gmail.com for details.

Curryoke flyer

And if you can spare some time to volunteer on the day of Parksfest itself, feel free to drop the group a line too.


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We can’t afford floodlights for Charlton skate park, Greenwich Council says

Charlton skate park
The skate park opened in October 2017 – but has no lighting (photo: Neil Clasper)

Greenwich Council says it doesn’t have the money to install floodlights at the skate park in Charlton Park, after 344 people signed a petition calling on the authority to light up the facility.

The skate park, which opened in October 2017, currently has no lighting so can’t be used safely after dark. It was built with £365,000 of money from developer Berkeley Homes after it built on a previous facility in Woolwich.

But the Friends of Charlton Park and Greenwich Skatepark Cooperative raised safety concerns about the poor lighting in the area, and presented a petition to the council in December calling for low level lighting to be installed. Safety concerns have increased since then following the break-in at the Old Cottage Cafe last month.

However, the response to the petition says the council “has no funding for the costs of installing the lighting”.

Instead, the council has suggested that the Friends of Charlton Park seek external funding for the floodlighting. “It was agreed in principle subject to public consultation, planning consent and that planning and installation costs being secured by the Friends Group that floodlights for the skate park and outdoor gym could be installed,” a report to be presented to next Wednesday’s full council meeting says.

“However, it was recognised that this could take a couple of years to achieve due to uncertainty regarding funding being secured.”

The Friends of Charlton Park has also been asked to monitor usage of the skate park and outdoor gym to demonstrate how busy they are.

Security in the park has also become a bigger issue after the break-in at the Old Cottage Cafe last month.

The response, however, is likely to generate even more disquiet about how the council spends funding from developers – known as Section 106 money, which is used to mitigate the impact of development in an area and contribute to community projects and facilities.

Greenwich Council is currently sitting on hundreds of thousands of pounds from developers of schemes nearby which could fund improved lighting. Figures released this month show that the construction of Primark and other stores on Bugsbys Way, for example, means £125,000 is available for public safety projects, with £41,752 for public realm projects (“30 Bugsbys Way” in this document.) Meanwhile, £53,000 is available for public safety projects following the construction of the new housing at the end of Fairthorn Road (“40 Victoria Way”) – a figure agreed seven years ago. (Those figures will be discussed at a cabinet meeting this evening.)

The petition response will be discussed at the full council meeting on Wednesday 27 February. If you wish to ask a question about it, or any other matter in the borough, email committees[at]royalgreenwich.gov.uk by noon today (Wednesday 20th).


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