Why are Edinburgh NIMBYs so afraid of skate parks? Ray Perman reports from an inspiring enterprise in Dundee where the energy and enthusiasm of young people benefit the whole community.
I like skateparks. That’s not a very popular thing to say in North Edinburgh just now when a disgraceful NIMBY campaign has defeated plans for a skate facility in Inverleith Park. But I like them because they give kids a great outlet for their energies and skills and keep them off the streets.
A visit to the highly successful Factory Skatepark in Dundee confirmed all my beliefs. The Factory, which cost £1.3m and is Scotland’s first indoor park, has been open two years and already has 5,700 registered skaters, skateboarders and BMX bikers. Last year it had 33,000 visits. That’s a remarkable achievement when you consider that the kids have to pay every time they use it. Trouble is negligible and on the back of skating the Factory has been able to add a range of other activities for all ages. “We’re building a 21st century community centre,” says Derek Marshall, who runs it.
The NIMBYs look down on skating as “not a real sport” but it takes skill, courage and physical fitness. Perhaps the inclusion of BMX biking – a close cousin – as a show sport in the 2008 Olympics and the possibility that skateboarding will follow in 2012 will change their minds. Ewan Aitken, leader of Edinburgh Council, has pledged to find an alternative location for the park. All power to him.
Ray Perman is chair of Social Investment Scotland, one of a large group of sponsors and funders of the Factory Skate Park.
2 comments December 12th, 2006