£250k pledge for a skate park in town

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A QUARTER-of-a-million-pounds is due to be set aside by Northampton Borough Council to help fund the creation of a skateboard park of “national importance” in the town.

Members of the authority are due to back the £250,000 funding for the project next week, although a date for when the skatepark will be built has not yet been set.

The council’s cabinet member for communities, Councillor Paul Varnsverry (Lib Dem, West Hunsbury) has led investigations into the creation of the new facility along with a team of skateboarders and BMX riders from across the town.

He said the council was setting aside the money for the development as a result of a commitment made by the authority’s ruling Liberal Democrat party in their 2007 election manifesto.

He said: “For the past year, we’ve been talking with the skateboard and BMX community, and it was one of our manifesto commitments in 2007 that we’d like to return a skateboard facility to Northampton following the closure of the former Radlands venue. Radlands is still spoken of extremely fondly by people who used it, and those who knew of it by reputation.”

The authority is also looking for alternative sources of funding for the park, and although no firm date has been set for the facility’s construction, Councillor Varnsverry said the pledge of the council cash represented a genuine commitment.

He said: “The sooner we can build it the better, but we’ve got to attract additional funding because we want to make sure this is a facility that has national significance and will put Northampton on the map, just as Radlands did.”

While a location for the planned park has not yet been chosen it is known the council has been looking at a number of venues, including The Racecourse, Midsummer Meadow and Sixfields.

Radlands, which was based in Kingsthorpe, closed in 2004 after its owners said it was no longer financially viable to run.

It was Britain’s first indoor skatepark and attracted more than 500,000 skaters during the 12 years it was open.

Last month, the council angered many skateboarders when it introduced a new bylaw in Northampton which sees skaters who are deemed to be dangerous or causing a nuisance handed on the spot fines.