With the Worcester skate scene under attack from the authorities, what can young people do without being demonised?

In late 2020, local skateboarders were rendered shocked when an article was discovered, announcing new powers to fine and banish them for ‘anti-social behaviour’. The people of Worcester had been consulted, it declared, and were highly supportive of this new “clamp down” legislation.

After speaking to the skate community, who cover all backgrounds, ages, and abilities, it became clear that not one of them had been approached before these plans went through.

Credit: Molly Kerrod

Councillor member Alan Amos was very vocal on what he described as “a growing problem that needs stamping out”. Despite his frustration at the “divisive labelling of people based on irrelevant factors” during the town’s summer protests, he condemned the actions of those skating in the Cathedral Square. The new laws, which are set to be introduced within the first few months of 2021, would allow police to ‘fine these offenders up to £70, or even ban them from the city centre.’

One member of the public expressed her concern at these powers – “What defines ‘dangerous’? I don’t like how vague this advice is.”

Before the area was renovated in 2017, it was a popular spot for skaters and cyclists, with no recorded complaints from the public about hazardous conduct. The sport put money back into the high street economy, through the popular supply shop ‘Two Seasons’ and the independent store ‘Reefs’. Several years after the building of yet another cluster of chain restaurants, these two businesses are gone, and The Council’s Youth Detached Team have been instructed to suggest “other activities as an alternative”. Dines Green skate park, a 44 minute walk from the Elgar statue, is regularly filled with primary and nursery aged children who create an extremely dangerous environment for skaters. Perdiswell, which is a similarly large distance, is again inaccessible for many. Both facilities were made without the input of those who they were designed for, and have been criticised for their poor structuring and lack of funding. With the alternatives to the Cathedral Square undoubtedly inadequate, the community have been left feeling ostracised and unfairly punished.

After a popular social media campaign by the affected group, a council meeting was organised willingly by board members Ann Nicholls and Lynn Denham. It was regarded as a great success by all those involved, and a much-needed line of communication has been established.

“It came as a shock to them when we expressed our anger and frustration at how we are treated by the authorities and the public”, said one attendee, “they had no idea that any of this was happening.”

Within this session, proposals were made for outdoor facilities close to the town centre, and potentially even an indoor park run by older supporters of the local scene. These appeared to be received enthusiastically by the authorities present, who also confirmed that a co-operative conversation between police and skaters would be essential in the re-thinking of this relationship.

The representatives of the community who were present at this consultation have said that they are hopeful for the future of the sport, and “pray that (the council) stick to what they told us”.

“It keeps kids safe away from drugs and crime, gives us an escape from problems at home or with mental illness, and is a genuine career option for so many”.

“creating a negative stigma around it pushes people away – if it was looked down on this much when I first started skating, I would never have taken it up… I would never have the talent and passion and friends that I have now”.

This is a crucial opportunity for change, and the fate of young people is in the precarious hands of the authorities once again.

4 comments

  • Thank you for an excellent article and giving us an insight into the skaters’ world. I am always keen to establish a ‘much needed line of communication’.

    Liked by 1 person

  • The demonising of the British youth has been a major issue for over 100 years.
    I started out life as a youth support worker who quickly lost his job due to the closing and privitisation of most youth centres and support services in the Worcestershire area.
    Skateboarding keeps kids away from drugs and criminal activities it is also a worldwide recognised sport with very large health benefits.
    The only people who complain about kids skateboarding are people who don’t understand modern life art or culture.

    Like

  • Seeing this has made my day! As a regular skate park user i can say with confidence that the facilities we have in worcester are decaying and are becoming dangerous to use! Not to mention neither of them are suitable for all skill levels! People resort to riding Asda carpark on a Sunday or town because its easier for them to get to as they don’t drive and they have lots of room to ride about and practise.

    The Worcester council needs to invest in skatepark facilities. I often travel about to use facilities in other towns such as the new pump track at charity brook park in evesham or the outdoor skateparks in Hereford/Bromsgrove/Stratford. Before it got shut down Unit3sixty in Stourbridge was a great option to escape wet weather, especially as it was only 30 mins away on the train!

    It saddens me that my home town hasn’t provided facilities as good as these other towns and i think they are depriving us on growing the action sport scene in worcester which is a huge shame!

    I’d love to have known about this council meeting and id love to have been able to input my experiences and ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

    • hi ! i wrote this and if you’d like to send me any input or ideas to forward to the council please use this number to contact me on whatsapp: 07999507409

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.