Great asset to communities

I would like to respond to the letter by Tom B. Dobson in last week’s issue, entitled “Jedburgh skateboard park lacks support”.

The skatepark does not lack support as a meeting held in the Kenmore Hall proved with 100 people of mixed ages in attendance. The meeting was open to everyone – supporters and those who may have wanted to raise issues about the proposals. Parents of children who did raise concerns about the site of the proposed skatepark at The Dip were given assurances by the local police that it is the “perfect place” and very much in sight of the A68 where officers can drive past and keep an eye on what is going on.

People who were unaware of the meeting are more than welcome to, as Mr Dobson did, write letters to local newspapers, or have their say on the Facebook page. I believe there has only been one objection from a Jedburgh resident so far and there has been plenty of publicity about the proposals in the local press.

I’m sure the majority of local residents will be happy that our young people will have somewhere to go rather than hanging around the streets, which seems to have been the cause of complaints for many years.

Regarding Mr Dobson’s comments about The Dip being on top of an old acid house of the rayon factory and the soil contaminated – this seems to be in conflict with others who are not in favour of the skatepark who claim the site is used by local nursery children, birdwatchers etc.

I would have thought the site would have been closed off to people if there was any danger of contamination. And surely Mr Dobson graces those trying to get this skatepark with a bit more sense. We do not wish to put our children in danger and every precaution will be taken to ensure this is the case.

Recent studies have shown that skateparks are a great asset to communities. 
Gathering a group of creative individuals from many sections of the community can contribute to a sense of ownership of the space.

The personal challenges offered by extreme sports create enjoyment through learning how to overcome obstacles and use energy creatively. In an encouraging social environment, this excitement is a positive way of promoting exercise and maintaining good health.

Parks are designed to be sympathetic to the local environment, while giving an intriguing visual focus, and preserving other public spaces. The damage to a town or city’s landscapes mainly due to “grinding” along kerbs, benches or low walls is often because skaters or BMX riders have nowhere else to go.

Providing a positive space for young people is proven to be a constructive way to produce a happier, more vibrant community. These kinds of social and environmental strategies are a vital part of combating street crime and antisocial behaviour.

We are all aware of the need to channel young people’s potential and bring the community together. Time and time again creating a skatepark has also helped create a more positive and diverse community, as young people, local residents, local councils and politicians unite around a shared vision.

It should also be noted that a report by Strathclyde Police showed “a marked drop of 34.9 per cent in levels of youth disorder was recorded in Beat 6, where the skatepark is located, since 2002-2006. Anecdotal evidence suggests that there is a code of honour among those who attend the skatepark. This encourages youths to behave appropriately for fear of spoiling it for others.”

We are not monsters, just a group of parents trying to improve the facilities in the town for our young people (although people of all ages will use the skatepark) and draw trade from outwith, which a skatepark will, inevitably, do.

Lisa Brown (mother of two boys aged 12 and eight who will use the facility)

South Myrescroft