Skate park opinions

MY GRANDCHILDREN who attend Gordano School were recently asked what their peers feel about the provision (or not) of a skatepark and they say that no one they know is bothered either way.

MY GRANDCHILDREN who attend Gordano School were recently asked what their peers feel about the provision (or not) of a skatepark and they say that no one they know is bothered either way.

Additionally, no one I know or have spoken to has expressed a vital need for a skatepark. However, an unremitting campaign by the (Portishead Skatepark Project) has been mounted and the subsequent furore following its failed planning application has enjoyed yet more publicity. So here's my perspective on events.

Firstly, a crude questionnaire was sent to Gordano School pupils posing the question as to whether respondents wanted a skatepark. Naturally, the response (whatever that was) was overwhelmingly in favour, but was this a valid poll? One cannot help but suspect that the outcome would have been the same whether the subject of the question was that of skatepark, helter-skelter, mountain-bike track or night club. So from this we must assume that the projected numbers for users of the skatepark are unreliable. Nevertheless, these numbers could undoubtedly be boosted as the facility will attract many others from outside the area. Is this really what was envisaged for the youth of Portishead? A questionnaire, without controls, choices and impartiality, does not stand up to scrutiny, so cannot provide a true picture of what our youngsters really want. Assuming, there was 100 per cent response (which is unlikely), it is easy to get a 100 per cent positive result if the choice is either yes or no to the provision of any youth facility.

Nevertheless, the principles behind addressing the needs of the young of Portishead are no doubt well-founded and the PSP's success in convincing us that a skatepark is so essential is a splendid example of effective and relentless PR. Many believe that a disproportionate amount of publicity has been afforded this campaign which begs the question as to whether such efforts are truly addressing the needs of the young of Portishead and this brings me to another moot point that also arouses strong feelings.

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I too have concerns regarding the provision of social amenities for the young of Portishead and would ask why the Youth Club is not providing a meeting place for our children on Friday and Saturday evenings. If the PSP group were to put their weight behind such a campaign, wow - how we would all benefit. The youngsters would have a meeting place to socialise, the parents could feel reassured that their children are in a safe place. The need for creative policing would diminish and residents would feel less vulnerable because children would not be roaming the streets.

It is a disgrace that there is a growing number of disenfranchised teenagers who have nowhere to go on these evenings and it is no surprise that many congregate wherever they can, inadvertently intimidating passers-by and in some cases, resorting to alcohol which, in turn, leads to anti-social behaviour and low-level crimes.

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The majority of youngsters are well-behaved, do not want to break the law, do not want to be harangued by residents or police simply for congregating with their peers. It is apparent that such an initiative would solve a lot of problems and is a win win situation for all. So let's address the issue of youth provision in a grown-up way. Stop the squabbling between the various factions and campaign for relevant and meaningful youth provision when it is needed on Fridays and Saturdays.


Beach Road West, Portishead

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