Board meeting

SIR - I m 35 years old and work for a business consultancy. As well as engaging in pastimes deemed as fitting for my years, I also skateboard. I agree that skateboarding in pedestrian areas can be dangerous, and I only skate on Stevenage s public cycleway

SIR - I'm 35 years old and work for a business consultancy. As well as engaging in pastimes deemed as fitting for my years, I also skateboard.

I agree that skateboarding in pedestrian areas can be dangerous, and I only skate on Stevenage's public cycleways or parks within the vicinity. However, my age actually bars me - and others skaters of my age - from using premises such as Bowes Lyon, which is strictly for under-19s, so I sometimes feel marginalised for my interest in skateboarding.

Over the last 10 years, the popularity of 'street skating' has evolved across the world, whereby street furniture such as kerbs, benches, steps and handrails are used by skaters for the creative potential they hold.

Skateboarding has ridden the ebb and flow of popularity, but its grass roots have always remained, and if you look around Stevenage these days you will see more and more young (and not so young) people stepping on skateboards and enjoying this healthy outdoor activity with its challenges and satisfactions. Unfortunately, as there's nowhere to legally practise the art of street skating, many head for the town centre.


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I propose a skate plaza should be created for our town. Unlike a skate park, which is just a series of ramps in a terribly confined space, a skate plaza recreates the street furniture of the built environment. The kerbs, benches, steps and handrails are recreated in a specially constructed faux-plaza, away from hazards and far removed from motor vehicles, pedestrians and the inappropriate use of public or private property.

A skate plaza would appropriately nurture the increasingly popular activity of street skating and put Stevenage firmly on the map.

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As I understand it, New Town design attempts to create a world of exploration, where use of the car is secondary to the network of pathways, playing fields and woodland which can only be discovered on foot, bicycle, or indeed skateboard or inline skates. As the UK's first New Town, Stevenage - with its urban landscape combining buildings with tree-lined avenues, parks and woodland - is the ideal place to locate a world-class skate plaza.

Providing a place where skateboarders can safely and legally learn the techniques of street skating is vital. If there's nowhere safe to practise this evolving and dominant form of skating, teenagers will naturally use street obstacles instead, causing conflict with other members of the public and putting themselves, property and people in potential danger. They will also feel threatened and sidelined for the love of their hobby.

As someone who only spends an hour or so a week on my board, I'll still definitely use the skate plaza, so it'll be great for me, but I'd also like to see it elevated to acceptance as a legitimate pastime. Skateboarding should not be looked upon as a crime, and a skate plaza could go a long way towards promoting its widespread acceptance, by giving people somewhere to practise without creating tension with fellow residents or local businesses.

Andrew Watson

Conifer Walk

Stevenage

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