Council defends Witterings skate park decision

Artist impression of Witterings skate park
Artist impression of Witterings skate park

A parish council has defended its decision not to back a new skate park in East Wittering after a video of its meeting went viral last week.

Residents were angry after the video showed councillors quickly dismissing the plans.

However, East Wittering and Bracklesham Parish Council had fully debated the proposal for Downview Park at a meeting in June, it has been revealed.

Members the skate park group filmed a meeting on Thursday, where parish councillors voted on whether or not they supported plans for a skate park at Downview Park.

The video shows councillors proposing a motion to not back the plan, which was then agreed by the majority of members.

The plan was first discussed in June, where the council said that despite the ‘excellent presentation’ from the skate park group, there were serious concerns about the limited parking at the proposed site.

The council added that ‘the group understood the concerns and are willing to look at other plots of land’ for the development.

Last week the skate park group brought forward plans for the same site at Downview Park.

After the decision, a member of the skate park group said: “You can see why the younger people in this area feel that they are not represented, can you understand that?”

The chairman of the meeting, Sylvia Main, responded: “It’s a council decision.”

The skate park group member continued: “Our documents show the area under provides for youth by 31.6 per cent.

“We are offering to prove a public facility that is not going to cost the council money and will help the council to provide adequate youth facilities and you’ve all just turned it down.”

However, cllr Main replied: “I’m hearing what you are saying but the council has made a decision.”

In response to the video of the meeting, East Wittering and Bracklesham Parish Council said: “The parish council is very disappointed with the negative reaction to its decision that Downview public open space is not a suitable location for a new skate park and also with the comments that the council does nothing for the youth.

“It at no time said it didn’t agree with the proposal of a skate park, simply that Downview was not the correct place.”

The council continued to say that the area has a ‘thriving football club’, a multi-use games area at Bracklesham Park, and a teen shelter.

The council said: “At a parish council meeting in June 2016 the skate park group presented its case to the full council.

“At that meeting the group was told that Downview was not considered a suitable place and was asked to research another location which it agreed.

“The reasons Downview is not a suitable location for a skate ramp of such scale were mainly the restricted access and lack of parking.

“Also with very limited open space available in this area the council would have to consider whether a further loss of open space in this dense residential area would be acceptable.

“The council made suggestions to approach the new developers in the area so that a skate park of this size may get included within a new build.”