Skate park demise fury

Demolition work on a skate park declared by the council to be unsafe and neglected has sparked an angry residents' reaction.

Monday, 10th April 2017, 11:01 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:51 pm
week in pics Skateboarders don breathing masks to paint their designs on the Atherton Skate Park behind Hesketh Fletcher High School with help from PC Andy Wright and artist Martin from the Graffitti Workshop .

Equipment at the facility in Atherton is now beginning to be cleared away after it failed its last safety inspection.

Wigan Council says the ramps and platforms at the Hamilton Street site have attracted anti-social behaviour, with people gaining entry despite its being shut down. It says there are high-quality facilities nearby at Howe Bridge Leisure Centre for skateboarders and BMX riders and those wanting to practise the sports should go there.

But the authority’s actions have met with a backlash from locals who say they were not consulted and had no chance to express a view on the park’s future.

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Penny McGinty, council’s assistant director for property, said: “We have taken the decision to demolish Atherton Outdoor Skate Park due to it posing a risk to users. We would urge people to please take notice of the warning signs as anyone using the site is putting themselves at risk.

“This decision has not been taken lightly but we have to put the safety of the public first which is why we have had to act quickly. The new facilities now on offer at Howe Bridge Leisure Centre are of a much higher standard and are safe to use.”

The most recent inspection found eight pieces of defective equipment which posed immediate risk to users.

The facility was built with a grant awarded to a former community group in Hag Fold, which also funded periodic safety inspections.

However, arrangements to maintain it to a safe standard lapsed when both the group and former Hesketh Fletcher High (which has since become Atherton Academy) closed, leading to council intervention.

Atherton Residents’ Association branded the idea of local youngsters going to Howe Bridge instead “nonsensical” and criticised the council for not involving the public in a discussion about the site.

Skaters who used the park regularly have now started a petition on Facebook to try to save the venue. Bolton West MP Chris Green, whose constituency contains parts of Atherton, has also been approached.