Town Mayor hits out at campaigners trying to save a local skateboarding ramp painting councillors as 'Scrooge-like dinosaurs'

A town mayor has hit out campaigners battling to save a local park skateboarding half pipe – saying the council is sick of being painted as "Scrooge-like dinosaurs".

Friday, 6th August 2021, 5:43 pm
Updated Monday, 9th August 2021, 9:50 am
Campaigners have been battling to save Norton's half pipe, as seen in the background (pictured is Ryan Swain, who is leading the campaign)

Residents in Norton and Malton, in Ryedale, have been trailblazing a project to restore the half pipe which is supposedly one of the last remaining in the North of England which is free to use.

The campaign, spearheaded by local resident Ryan Swain, has been putting pressure on Norton-on-Derwent Town Council (NTC) to revamp the ramp to a usable state.

Initial stages of the plan were given the green light in May after receiving sponsorship from a community fund, but now the half pipe's future once again looks uncertain.

Campaigners have been battling to save Norton's half pipe, as seen in the background (pictured is Ryan Swain, who is leading the campaign)

A meeting called by campaigners was held on Thursday evening, seeing various residents make their appeals to councillors to allow the plans to go ahead.

But Ann Spencer, the Town Mayor, has said the half pipe is "potentially too dangerous" to be opened to children of all ages without supervision, and that campaigners were doing themselves no favour by vilifying councillors.

"Councillors are being portrayed as Scrooge-like dinosaurs who are 'threatening to close the skate park', when nothing could be further from the truth," she told The Yorkshire Post.

"We regard it as a valuable resource for our young people."

Under the Health and Safety Act 1974, the council would be liable for any serious injuries sustained on the half pipe, where found to be negligent.

Mrs Spencer said that the council "would love to see the half pipe cared for in the proper way", and wished it could be "taken away and located somewhere where it could be safely run", but that, essentially, the authority did not have the resources to do so.

"On these inconvenient truths regarding issues of safety, the campaigners remain strangely silent and continue to argue there is no need for supervision," Mrs Spencer said.

"The halfpipe is said to be the only one remaining of such a height run by a parish council - all others are in theme parks or sports centres, usually undercover, and consequently under supervision where users have to pre-book and pay.

"Such conditions are beyond the resources of NTC."

She added the skate park is also currently on land leased by the Fitzwilliam Estate, with less than three years to run and "unlikely to be renewed", meaning the council would have to find a new site.

The ongoing row comes as 13-year-old Team GB athlete Sky Browne this week won bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in the first games to host skateboarding as an official sport – becoming the youngest British medallist in nearly a century.

But the young athlete was pointed to as an example of why the council did not feel optimistic in restoring the ramp, due to her fracturing her skull and wrist while performing on a ramp similar to the one at Norton Skate Park.

Responding to the Mayor's claims, Mr Swain said: "Up until I started the campaign in March to actually repair the ramp and restore it back to its original safe standard, nothing has even been done with the skatepark.

"As soon as I started speaking out about it the council have been nothing but difficult with myself and campaigners and most importantly members of the public.

"Norton Town council never actually answered any of the public's questions directed at them at the meeting last night, which did cause frustration from local citizens.

"[The council] will find as they did at the meeting it's not just me now. It's the whole of the region who are behind this project and want that ramp repairing and restoring for future users."