For this entry into “The Skatepark Situation”, I’m not going to be doing a whole lot of the talking, I’ll leave that up to the skatepark users who have provided their thoughts and views below.
What I will say is that during a session down the memorial park skatepark today, I counted 38 people who had come to the skatepark to use it for it’s intended purpose!! I’m talking about skateboarders, BMX riders and rollerbladers – all using the skatepark on a wet and cold day in the middle of November. Despite only getting one part of the skatepark dry, we still had a group of 25 skateboarders joining in and having a fun time. This is a sample of how many people use this skatepark on an average weekend, with the numbers increasing during the summer, with the odd occasion where the number of skatepark users gets to nearly 80 people.
With that in mind, here are some words from people all over Coventry who feel disappointed by the skateparks we have:
“Coventry Skateparks. Some believe they’re the kind of thing you’d find in California, the birthplace of skateboarding, and some say they are the most basic collection of ramps the nation did see. What we need is something better: something a bit more extravagant, better than the likes of Longford, Memorial park or the Holbrooks bowls. Non-skaters think these are the kind of parks we need; parks with no flow or anywhere to show true skateboarding abilities. Coventry may be gifted with a large number of these parks, but Skateboarders, Bmxers and Rollerbladers of the city would rather have quality over quantity. It just makes sense, seeing as the Coventry skate scene has always been very good and a key part of the midlands skate scene. In this day and age new skaters are progressing faster, but there is one thing getting in the way of upcoming skateboarders: the parks. Without council action there is little we can do to make sure Coventry’s Skateboarding, Rollerblading and Bmxing scenes can be improved.”
Luke Phillips from Wyken, Aged 14
“Over the past ten years or so, skateboarders who use the city centre, carparks and streets as skating facilities have had an impact on coventry city council. We now have four council funded skateparks in Coventry. The council money used to build these parks is granted to areas where the youth need encouragement to do something with themselves, and somehow a skatepark is suposed to be the answer to this problem. Because of this, these skateparks are being used as an attraction for trouble makers, drinkers and muggers. This is known throughout the skate community, so the parks get avoided by the actual skateboarders who want to use them. The Memorial park skatepark has a more “skate-friendly” enviroment than any other park in Coventry, is also under CCTV protection and is in a central area that is easy for people from all over Coventry to get to. This skatepark is very small and limited but still gets used more than any other skatepark in the city. If there is ever going to be more council money going into a skatepark in the city, please don’t waste it in another area that does not need or really appreciate a skate facility. The dedicated skateboarders are the ones with the knowlege of their sport and need to be worked with. The Memorial park is the most safe and suitable place for a skate facility, as it is the most used for all users practising all types of activity. It only makes sense to extend the skatepark and it’s popularity at the same time. This would be a major attraction for anyone interested in skating in the midlands area; in other words a big success!”
Gaz Taylor from Earlsdon, Aged 35
“I’m pretty new to skateboarding, and with a brand new “revolution” of skateboarders in the city and surrounding areas, I feel, and I’m sure other people feel, that a new skatepark would benefit users new and old. With what we have now, it feels like we are missing out, especially when we see cities in similar situations getting grants, funding and support from their councils for new parks to be built. The main point is a modern, well designed park will attract users of all abilities and should remove the current problems we have today with the parks.”
George Conneely from Coundon, Aged 17
“I’ve been a skateboarder now for 5 years, and whenever I skate street in the city centre I’ve been constantly told to move on by CV1 and other forms of security. They always ask the same question – ‘Isn’t there a skatepark in coventry?’. Even though the answer is always ‘Yes’, the problem is that not all skateboarders like to skate the same things, and Coventry’s skateparks do not fulfill every skateboarder’s needs. Look at the likes of Stoke Plaza, Burton on Trent, Milton Keynes Bus Station and Prissick Plaza: all worth the journey just to skate an awesome skatepark, and they all provide the kind of obstacles that most skateparks in this city are missing. The skatepark in the memorial park has so much space next to it; what’s wrong with taking down two railings and extending the skatepark to make it bigger and better?”
Danny Guinan from Tile Hill, Aged 21
“Coventry skateparks are too small, out-dated in design and are too far apart location wise. As a whole Coventry skateboarding suffers from the problems with the parks and with non-skaters at these skateparks. They provide the parks for the “community”, which is fair enough, but as most local skaters know a lot of the people going to these parks don’t skate and are just out to cause trouble; Nobody uses these parks a lot of the time from fear of mugging or getting beaten up. I’ve been through meetings in the past with youth opurtunity funds in order to organise a solution for this whole problem, but I turned 19 before we finished. I encouraged the council to involve some of the younger skaters to carry on the work, however nobody took responsability for the project and it went nowhere. We’ve been lead into a situation where the council don’t want to provide anything for skaters and the skaters feel neglected because the parks we have aren’t properly providing for their needs. Coventry is in dire need of a better skate facility in a decent place, and it’s just as important that the council begin to understand who these facilities are for. We have many problems with parents letting their kids run all over the ramps at the memorial park, when there’s a perfectly good playground nearby, as well as people attempting to play football in the skatepark when people are using the facility for it’s intended purpose. It seems like double standards that these people find it perfectly fine to use skateprks for this sort of behaviour when skaters are demonised for doing the same thing in the city centre! Obviously this isn’t the council’s fault, but the more people think they can use skateparks for these activities, the more skateboarders will feel alienated from a space that should be their own. If a better skatepark had been built, then maybe skateboarding would’ve become better understood in Coventry and accidents involving non-skaters getting in the way and trouble makers ruining skateparks could’ve been avoided. As you can tell, my thoughts on Coventry skateparks are obviously skater-orientated but this is a positive – I’ve skated for a long time and I’ve seen enough problems from badly thought out parks to know that things could be much better. In conclusion, I think that cov council need to start using some of their money to encourage activities like skateboarding. Coventry’s skate scene is a growing, enthusiastic and positive community; it’s time to give us something we can be proud of!”
Ryan Krusts from Bedworth, Aged 21
To end this article, here’s a few extra thoughts and bit of footage from the aforementioned skate session at Covpark today.
Photos to come soon, courtesy of Garry Jones.