Skate park wins the popular vote

Last night, the Skate Park Action Group secured a popular mandate in favour of locating a small children's skate area next to the basketball courts in the Lower Park. Their plans were put to a vote at the Telegraph Hill Assembly and they won a 196 t0 72 victory - just reward for their long campaign, which involved both hard work and compromise, to find the right site.

With funding secure and a site approved, it ought to be a formality that the project will go ahead, but during the lengthy consultation process, some opposition clearly became entrenched, with a few people seemingly determined to derail the project, whatever concessions were made.

It must be hoped now that, having tried and failed to win the argument, this group will now graciously concede defeat and let the children have the sports ground that they have worked so hard for and that the community has approved.

Congratulations to SPAG, we look forward to sharing the park with them.

63 comments:

Musgrove said...

I walked past the school just as people were leaving the meeting. It was very evident that one particular group of people were very angry. They were livid that "£50k was going to be spent on 25 f*****g middle class kids." I guess the park could put up a sign welcoming working class, upper class, aristocrats and royal kids too.

Brockley Nick said...

What a depressing comment, which shows what really underlies the failed campaign against the project - ignorance, resentment and a sprinking of paedophobia.

It will be a facility for anyone, in a public park used by kids of all sorts, doing a sport that it among the most accessible in the world. It will create a safe environment, that minimises public nuisance and should turn many more local children on to the sport, as a positive alternative to doing nothing - or worse.

Brockley Dogging Society said...

We welcome the farsighted decision and are glad that our representatives at the vote were able to secure the park. Can i take this opportunity to announce that the BDS are in discussions with the Telegraph Hill Society about an event we hope to arrange for next years TH festival. "Dogging On Wheels" will bring together two of the largest participation activities in the world to a greater audience. Expect thrills, spills and some sticky moments. All you need is enthusiasm and functioning hip joints. Colin, 4th place in last years all cumers event at bracknel NCP car park, is now fully recovered and will lend a hand for those who need it.

dogging prince said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Oh Christ... there's two of them.

Tamsin said...

Mark you, I would have had a bit more respect for the pro-side if elements had not whooped so triumphally when they won, if on a couple of occasions those speaking against the proposal had not been booed to an extent that called for a reprimand from the chair, and if the fervent skateboarders had had the maturity to leave their skateboards behind. Not only were the 20 or so descending Jerningham Road in posse a menace to themselves and other (legitimate) road users, the skateboards stacked up at the entrance to the meeting were a bit intimidating and in-you-eye.

I actually abstained in the vote - giving the paper I had been handed to someone else arriving late at the packed meeting.

Elsiemaud boy said...

paedophobia - is there really such a thing? - or are you creating words. Can we have some more - like hagaphobia - a fear of old ladies with cats and hairy chins?

Drakefella said...

It is a victory, but not one for local democracy.

Spag actually took an advert out in a skate magazine asking people to come along and vote for the project and encouraged kids from our of the ward via Facebook to come and join in the vote. I don't think that's in the spirit of a local community forum or partially respectful of the telegraph hill community.

Brockley Nick said...

@Tamsin, I guess if people had been characterising me as being a menacing thug and trying to whip up opposition to my plans, I'd feel somewhat triumphal afterwards too.

Hopefully, everyone can now let bygones be bygones.

@Elsimaud - google is your friend.

Brockley Nick said...

@Drakefella - what's wrong with getting local children to turn up?

re: the skateboard advert - if you're suggesting that people who do not live in the ward turned up and were allowed to vote, that would indeed be wrong. Have you any evidence of that?

Anonymous said...

The kids are pretty middle class, to be fair.

Anonymous said...

These skate forum postings from before Tuesdays meeting

http://forums.sidewalkmag.com/showthread.php?t=20311

"As far as i know the only age limit to vote is 11 so pretty much everyone on here can vote and you dont have to live in the borough or anything so if as many london skaters can come it would be greatly appreciated as we would all be pretty pissed if we fall at the last hurdle thanks to a few scare tactics and whatever."

and in another posting

"That looks like it could be a lot of fun. I just moved into a new flat on old kent road as well so it's only a short bus journey away too. I will come and vote on the 21st if I don't have work."

Brockley Nick said...

The existing ones are, yes. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

But if you build a new facility in the heart of the community, it is quite likely that new people will start using it too.

Tamsin said...

People were being asked to sign in, the Forum Co-ordinator could be asked to confirm that at least 269 people did so, and gave their post-codes. (Can't now remember whether the form made provision for it.)

Mb said...

What's the class obsession argument all about? I'm just glad the doggers are happy

Mb said...

I kook forward to the class warriors blocking the cricket ground.

Brockley Nick said...

The irony being that the people complaining about the middle class kids are mostly middle class adults.

I can imagine that if you've had to put up with skateboard noise outside your house for years, you might be so bitter that you don't want the kids responsible to get a "reward", even if that is actually the sensible, rational solution.

But if we can achieve power sharing in Northern Ireland, grown adults can live with kids getting a place to play.

max said...

There's a a good old fashion feel good movie in this story.

Brockley Nick said...

@Max - the skateboarding kids will eventually foil a jewel heist from the Hill Station and society will be healed.

Ed said...

BDS is the BC equivalent of an ITV comedy.

Brockley Nick said...

That is harsh.

BDS said...

Great, Colin is in a sulk. Thanks. Jesus, you guys!

Brockley Dogging Society said...

We're honoured - but that post wasn't sanctioned by our PR department!

I feel we may have an imposter in our ranks.

Still, I love to pretend.

lb said...

If someone attempts to start picking this vote apart on the basis of technicalities it'll be final confirmation that Telegraph Hill has divorced itself from reasonable human society, nice cafe or no nice cafe.

Headhunter said...

Nick - I'm interested to know, if indeed an ad was placed in a skateborading mag to attract support votes, why you're so sure that no one from outside the area turned up and affected the decision?

Brockley Nick said...

Erm, did I say I was sure they didn't? I asked for evidence that they did.

Tamsin has provided pretty good evidence to suggest that they didn't.

Tamsin said...

No, I haven't - just said that if the signing in sheets had post code information it might show where people came from. Or if significantly fewer people signed in than voted, it would be indicative but not conclusive of people from outside the area attending purely to vote. Likewise if huge numbers of people just gave their names but not the contact details to be told about future Ward Assemblies.

No-one will seek to unpick a vote which we were told was just to be taken as indicative of local opinion. The decisions are still with the Council who are responsible for the land. That the meeting might have been packed would be of interest, but probably not a factor in that decision. What I would be more concerned about if I were the council would be the responsibility for any issues if there is a futher collapse possibly attributable to digging in along the edge of the bank. The next urgent step is presumably a survey by a body with relevant expertise and indemnity insurance.

Brockley Nick said...

Well Tamsin, I trust you to give your honest opinion. Did the room appear to be filled with out-of-towners. I can believe that one or two might have snuck in (and I wouldn't approve that), but I find it hard to believe that it would have happened in any significant numbers, without anyone noticing. Especially given that skaters are all violent gang members ;)

Tamsin said...

Not full, but, now the issue has been raised, it would not astonish me to learn that there were quite a few. I was also, before the event, surpised by the number of skateboarders crusing down Jerningham Road in a fairly co-ordinated group. At least twenty, since I did not start counting straight away.

It would have been amusing but not alas very constructive to switch the agenda and keep everyone there while the "Our Lewisham Our Say" issues were discussed. I would guess that three-quarters of those attending left after the result of the skateboard area vote was announced - but that exodus included locals as well as any putative incomers.

PS - Totally off topic and, sorry, very last minute. But if anyone would be free in Central Lewisham lunchtime tomorrow (between 11 and 2) and can come along to an event aimed at breaking down the confidence barriers that often prevent the elderly from using IT, and introduce them to, for example, the joys of blogging here, I would love to hear from you.

Brockley Dogging Society said...

Are the elderly ready for what Brockley can offer?

Sounds like there's another special interest group on the cards...

Tamsin said...

To answer you tongue-in-cheek (and I expect I will wish I hadn't said that) question perfectly straignt - "yes".

This is what Neil of Transpontine e-mailed me:

"I think blogging is potentially a very accessible tool for pensioners (and indeed for anybody) once people get past any initial lack of IT confidence.

Would love to see a Lewisham Pensioners blog with reminiscences, old photos and current pensioners concerns. Failing that I am generally interested in publishing such stuff at Transpontine as I am sure Nick is for Brockley."

I also know that my father would have just loved to be "on net" with the whole world - alas he died in 1995, about decade too soon.

lb said...

Riding their skateboards together! You make it sound a like it was a chapter of Hell's Angels descending on Telegraph Hill riding their choppers. Surely TH sensibilities aren't that easily offended?

Brockley Dogging Society said...

"it was a chapter of Hell's Angels descending on Telegraph Hill riding their choppers"

The BDS wishes we hadn't abstained from this now.

Mb said...

Is the fact that the skatepark may be used by "outsiders" a big issue? I used to play softball on clapham common, what's the betting that the we are not blighted by hoards of low waisted skateboarding posh kids?

Headhunter said...

Sounds to me like the vote was thrown by out of towners after an ad was placed.... but there's no proof.

Brockley Nick said...

But you'll allege it anyway. Classic HH.

Mb said...

The process to get where we are has been fairly lengthy, with plans available, consultation and compromise. It's happening, a public recreation area is going to have an additional use. No process is immune from effective lobbying, frankly the fact that you may have got teenagers to travel to and take interest in the process suggests that they are a bit smarter than the stabby Mail bogeymen.

Tamsin said...

Comparisions with a chapter of Hell's Angels are not that out of place as it was a fairly spectacular sight, these youths crusing down a fairly steep hill. (There was little lad following them who could not quite manage the cool confidence who would skate then walk, skate then walk.) And, of course, there was the trundle of the wheels over the tarmac rather than the super-smooth, super quiet concrete the skate park area will be actually constructed out of.

The facility won't, I believe, be used by outsiders - SPAG, to their credit, have compromised on the size of it to accomodate this second choice site and so it will only be really of interest for local kids.

max said...

Wasn't there a mention of skaters down Jerningham Road in the book of Revelations?

Brockley Dogging Society said...

All this because one of our members spilled his seed on Hilly Fields :-(

max said...

In today's News Shopper :
"Now a new group has formed to save the lower park and are threatening legal action to stop the build."

lb said...

Yes, Telegraph Hill has finally disappeared up its own fundament.

Max's comment @16.44 on 23/09 has to be a strong contender for Post of the Year. Some of my coffee just came out of my nose.

lb said...

"Comparisions with a chapter of Hell's Angels are not that out of place as it was a fairly spectacular sight"

Clearly you've never been in the vicinity of a chapter of Hell's Angels.

Tamsin said...

No, but I've seen movies and it's just a matter of degree.

Pete said...

Ha! Just a matter of degree.

"That firecracker going off was just like a Hydrogen Bomb!".

"Eh?"

"Its just a matter of degree..."

Anonymous said...

As I live very close to the planned location I somehow feel the pain of the local people: the noise of the boards can be pretty loud and if you imagine to have 10 of them right out of your doorstep then then it may change your vote.
However as a parent I can see that it can be a good thing for the kids.
Why not do a test: if somebody could record the noise made by skateboards and play it back on the planned location it could/would show how disturbing or noisy the SB park could be. I have a feeling (hope) that the high banks of the park absorbs the noise caused. This could reassure local and put the whole project in a more positive light.

Brockley Nick said...

@Anon - nice balanced comment. However, when the plan was to use the upper park, I could accept noise being a legitimate concern. The lower park is surrounded by roads on all sides, and the ramps are nestled below a bank that will absorb a lot of the noise. It is right next basketball courts that are not quiet and they are using a special surface to build the facility which really cuts down on the noise that the boards make.

I don't think it is really about noise, any more than it's about concern for teens being run over on the surrounding roads.

It seems to have become an issue where positions have got so entrenched that the real issues don't matter any more. It is a matter of pride to some people that this should not go ahead under any circumstances.

Sarah said...

I think noise is still a legitimate concern with this site, just for fewer people. I live opposite and even with the road it is very close. I didn't vote and I'm hoping that the noise will blend into all the others. Maybe more planting on the bank could be considered if there is room for it.

Tamsin said...

Ed, read things more carefully. I did not say "just like" - I said that "comparisons...[were]not that out of place". A fire-cracker and a hydrogen bomb both go bang and so on that basis a comparison is not necessarily out of place.

The cinematic image of a chapter of hell's angels is typically a gathering on roads or streets of a number of young(ish) males linked by a common culture that is defined by their favoured mode of transport - and the group is moving on that mode of transport (which, depending on your viewpoint is either extremely stylish or somewhat menacing). And I stick by my statement that the youths going down Jerningham Road to the Assembly meeting shared those characteristics - including the style.

It is also quite likely that a number were from outside the Ward. I've been sent a link to a blog posting about a week before the meeting asking fellow skateboarders to come along, giving directions and saying it was not even necessary to be in the borough to vote.

Brockley Nick said...

Tamsin, that link is also posted here. One or two people say they will come. Like most people who say they will turn up to events that are being discussed online, I bet they didn't actually go.

Tamsin said...

Oh, absolutely. The vote is indicative only and some out of ward or out of borough interlopers would not materially affect a majority of nearly 3:1.

However it is a slightly disquieting precedent if there were a more close run vote or if the Assembly process were ever to be used for something like elections where more ruthlessly efficient people could pack the hall with their supporters and the more naive or more honourable losers could get very upset.

jacqui shimidzu said...

We are trying to listen to peoples comments and I know one of the main fears is noise. If anyone is interested they can have alook at a similar slightly bigger Skate park in Croydon. I think people persecption of noise is worse than it really is. People hear skaters on the roads and think it will sound like that where as in fact it is much quieter than that. Another fear is anti social behaviour all I can say is that I have spoken to several police teams that police parks ie Stockwell and they tell me the skate park has been a postive thing and anti social behaviour has infact fallen. I have travelled to many skate parks across london and haven't seen any anti social behaviour whta I have seen is young people dedicated to hooning their craft. Skate boarding is socially inclusive and it keeps kids fit and stops them from being stuck in front of the tv playing computer games.
If anyone would like to discuss anything regarding concerns they may have about the proposal for this skate area or if they would like to add there support in someway please email me at cafeinthepark@live.co.uk

jacqui shimidzu said...

We are trying to listen to peoples comments and I know one of the main fears is noise. If anyone is interested they can have alook at a similar slightly bigger Skate park in Croydon. It is a lot quieter than you think and no graffitti! I think people persecption of noise is worse than it really is. People hear skaters on the roads and think it will sound like that where as in fact it is much quieter than that. Another fear is anti social behaviour all I can say is that I have spoken to several police teams that police parks ie Stockwell and they tell me the skate park has been a postive thing and anti social behaviour has infact fallen. I have travelled to many skate parks across london and haven't seen any anti social behaviour whta I have seen is young people dedicated to hooning their craft. Skate boarding is socially inclusive and it keeps kids fit and stops them from being stuck in front of the tv playing computer games.
If anyone would like to discuss anything regarding concerns they may have about the proposal for this skate area or if they would like to add there support in someway please email me at cafeinthepark@live.co.uk

jacqui shimidzu said...

I am a member of Spag and also happen to be working class if that has anything at all to do with our campaign.

I would like to say thank you to all those who came along to vote on Tuesday at the Local Assembly meeting. It was the biggest in Lewisham by a mile. Just to clarify we did not put an advert in a skate magazine encouraging people to come and vote. Someone who works for the magazine un be known to us did an article on the campaign (they happen to live in Waller Rd). Also there were only about 30 or so kids at that meeting out of nearly 270. Most of the people who voted were adults and most of them we all recognized from living on the hill. This also can be deduce from the 20 or so boards t the meeting lined up against the wall, which Tamsin found intimidating. Unfortunately this I think reflects how society seems to view our young people. I thought your comments at the end of the meeting were quite positive Tamsin and am surprised that you view these boys as intimidating. I noticed when the working party was asked to stand up neither you or Malcolm did, even though you have been part of it since it was formed in June. I also think that the boys bringing along their chosen mode of transport does not show a lack of maturity. You will notice when my son and other boys who form part of the working party turn up to meetings they do so on their boards, just as an adult might with their car or bike. Boarding is a way of life for most skaters they take them everywhere with them. You say you would have had more respect if they hadn’t “whooped" so loud when they won the vote or booed at objectors...but this is a normal reaction in fact it goes on all the time in big debates in the House of Commons. This has been a difficult campaign for these boys and their supporters. They have had to stand up time and time again in front of large crowds of people some of whom have been quite hostile and do presentations. No mean feat when your 11 or 12 years old. They are entitled to be pleased after winning the vote by a landslide to "whoop "(Is this not normal practice when things are debated in the House of Commons) and be pleased that so many adults came out to support the campaign. Let’s not forget what this is all about. It is about trying to build a small skate area not just for our boys or even 25 local and I quote "middle class kids" it is for all local skaters from around the area of which there are many. When we held our consultation day back last Feb we had 150 Skaters and another 100 adult’s turn up on a cool Saturday morning. We were delighted as this showed us what we knew to be turn that there was a demand for such a facility. I have heard some people say why can’t these kids go to the one at Peckham Rye? Firstly the reason that there were 100 adults at the consultation day was that they were accompanying the 150 skaters many who were under ten years old. Also not to be over looked is that during the school day this area can be used for little children on their scooters and balance bikes(this is not safe to do in the park due to steep hills) this will give them somewhere to practice. It is also a unique facility in that children of all ages can skate together and adults have a chance to interact with the young people who live in our community because skaters welcome on lookers. Little children find it fascinating to watch as well.
Tamsin another point you say you gave your voting slip away is that allowed? Did you not have to sign for it and if so did the person you gave it to get to vote twice. If they arrived late and the vote was already closed as some of our supporters did was that fair to give the slip to them when they had been told they were too late to get vote?

Sophie said...

Firstly, SPAG did NOT put an advert in a skate magazine. This story was picked by them and they wrote a short article. The editor lives on Waller Rd and he and some of his friends who live in Arbuthnot and some of the surrounding streets came to the meeting. There was also a very famous skater there who lives in New Cross. The boys who came to the meeting were all either residents of the ward or study at Askes,as far as I'm aware, both of which entitle you to vote. I am astonished that Tamsin Baccus refused to vote after declaring publically that she now supports the new site. Perhaps she gave her voting slip to someone from outside the area! Both she and Malcolm are on the Working Party and have been involved with this campaign for a while. On signing in,there was a space to write your address although I don't think this was mandatory.
I agree that trying to pick holes in the process shows a sad kind of desperation. If the vote had been close then I would argu that the process is not full proof. But as this was just an indication of support, albeit the best we have,then we should be satisfied. A report will go to the Mayor with all the comments raised, both for and against. We elected these guys to make these important decisions, let them now do their job.
And why shouldn't they whoop and cheer. They have been working on this project and listening to all this attack on them for over a year,standing and speaking in front of over 300 people, they deserve a bit of whooping! Of course they were going to bring their skate boards, for some it is their mode of transport and for most it was surley not an eye sore but a statement of what this was about.

The fact that 73% of people in that room voted for this proposal gives a clear indication of it's popularity. There will be issues that will need to be addressed and they will hopefully be worked on by the Working Party over the next few months. The main issue is not about a few skaters using a local facility, most people are well aware of the benefits of this activity and the need to try and ecourage skaters off the streets. The real issue is about some and I reay do hope it is a few, residents of TH believing the parks belong to them. These local parks are for everyone no matter where you live. They are paid for by everyone and are free to use whoever you amy be, no matter your age, gender, ethnicity or social background. They are for recreation and play and for these young people, being allowed a small area for a skate facility is surely not too much to ask.

The ".....ing middle class kids" is a charming description of these local boys. How dare any one presume to know who anyone is or what they have. Who cares whether they're middle class, working class or flipping aristos. They're the ones who have got off their backsides and applied for their funding, done all their presentations, held consultation days and have now been awarded some funding for an idea that they came up with. This funding cannot go to any other deserving cause. It is only for this project in this area. If they do not use it it will not be transferred to another project. It will be gone for ever. Let's get behind these kids and suppport them in this endevour.

Imogen said...

I am for my sins a SPAGger i.e. one of the Skate Park Action Group.

I am still shocked and surprised by the amount of rumour, uncorroborated statements and fear of young people that our campaign for a very small skate area has brought about.

With regard to Drakefella saying we placed an ad in a skate magazine - we didn't. However the editor of a skate magazine lives on Waller Road. I told my son not to invite people from outside of the area which he respected.

I think there is a bitterness that we actually won the vote and therefore a majority, which is well earned after more than a year of hard work. (Tamsin - the kids leapt and in the air and shouted because they were overjoyed and not because they were trying to rub in their victory to those that were unhappy).

All this attempting to classify kids who skate as middle class (and therefore I assume the implication is not in need of places and activities), is mean and missing the point. As an academic researcher I have done research on different types of sport and their relation to social cohesion and I have to say that skating is one of the most mixed, cohesive and positive sports I have come across.

For me there are 2 key issues here.

- Attitudes to young people and
- the desire of a small (and I guess middle class, 'well to do') minority to undermine grass roots democracy.

Young people (under 18's) make up over 20% of our ward residents and they need safe places in which to be and play. Not providing for them causes more problems.

And finally I want to say that SPAG and the Skate Park Working Group are committed to working with ALL local residents to address legitimate concerns. We believe that we can build something that won't be the fearful terrible thing that some people imagine, but instead a positive addition to our community and facility in our park.

Tamsin said...

Sorry, Jacqui, about the "indimidating" remark. It was just that for some people the parked skateboards could have been. But I have not seen them before in the light of a basic mode of transport, like a car or bike, but something that you can't park and lock or chain to railings. Thank-you for that insight!

You will also have got from my tone that while I deplore it, and think it very unfair on other road users, I was rather admiring of the bunch of skaters going down the hill.

I, for one, did not stand up as a working party group member as I thought it would be a bit presumptious of me since I have not been able to make it to many of the meetings and certainly have not done any of the huge amount of work you have all put in.

I gave my voting slip to Steve C-D who arrived late, looking worried and clearly would want to vote much more than I felt the need to, so it seemed a friendly thing to do. (If you think he shouldn't have voted or may have voted twice deduct one from the majority!)

Interesting point about the House of Commons. Not sure that I would hold their behaviour at Question Time up as a model for maturity.

Ed said...

What an awful mess, some of you should be bloody ashamed of yourselves whilst some clearly deserve an apology.

Mb said...

Well it's not really is it? a modest skateboarding facility in a public park next to an existing basketball court. It's not building settlements in occupied territories is it?

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