curiosity about the ways of the world

Time to get our skates on

Why are Edinburgh NIMBYs so afraid of skate parks? Ray Perman reports from an inspiring enterprise in Dundee where the energy and enthusiasm of young people benefit the whole community.

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I like skateparks. That’s not a very popular thing to say in North Edinburgh just now when a disgraceful NIMBY campaign has defeated plans for a skate facility in Inverleith Park. But I like them because they give kids a great outlet for their energies and skills and keep them off the streets.

A visit to the highly successful Factory Skatepark in Dundee confirmed all my beliefs. The Factory, which cost £1.3m and is Scotland’s first indoor park, has been open two years and already has 5,700 registered skaters, skateboarders and BMX bikers. Last year it had 33,000 visits. That’s a remarkable achievement when you consider that the kids have to pay every time they use it. Trouble is negligible and on the back of skating the Factory has been able to add a range of other activities for all ages. “We’re building a 21st century community centre,” says Derek Marshall, who runs it.

The NIMBYs look down on skating as “not a real sport” but it takes skill, courage and physical fitness. Perhaps the inclusion of BMX biking – a close cousin – as a show sport in the 2008 Olympics and the possibility that skateboarding will follow in 2012 will change their minds. Ewan Aitken, leader of Edinburgh Council, has pledged to find an alternative location for the park. All power to him.

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Ray Perman is chair of Social Investment Scotland, one of a large group of sponsors and funders of the Factory Skate Park.

2 Comments

  1. d smith

    There is also an outdoor skatepark that is now a year old, in Dundee. It also has a thriving, friendly scene, and even better, is FREE and owned by the local council.

  2. kit galer

    I\’ve just read your imbedded reporter Ray Perman\’s despatch from the Factory Skate Park front line and would like to compliment him on his erudition and heartily endorse his comments. Anything that keeps the little sods off the streets is all right by me.
    Here in Melbourne there are skate parks all over the place – the problem seems to be getting kids to use them. Drive past one and you\’ll be lucky to see anyone at all in there showing off and desperately trying to put themselves in hospital. The skateboarders are all outside the local shopping centres or office blocks, taking photos of each other in action and annoying the hell out of everyone,
    It\’s much the same situation as when I lived in Brighton many years ago. The local council got so brassed off with people emptying their dogs on the seafront (this was way before the days when a dog walker felt a moral obligation to go equipped with small shovel and plastic bag when taking Fido out for a dump) that they built a series of \”dog toilets\” along the front.
    These were large concrete-sided rectangles filled with some sort of degradeable pet litter and, nice touch, a mock lamppost in the middle with a sign informing the dogs as to what they were supposed to do there. Weeks later the pet litter remained as virgin as the day it was put down while the grass all around it looked as if it had been visited by every incontinent dog in Sussex.
    It\’s not providing the facility, its persuading those it was intended for to use it. If the Factory has that number of registered addicts it must be fulfilling a necessary role.
    Hey, NIMBYs, leave them kids alone! (What are NIMBYs, by the way?)

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