Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Vote for the Little Oasis Skate Park!

Last year, a group of young people came together and built a skate park on the derelict Council owned Little Oasis Crazy golf site in Cliftonville. Wonderful things began to happen; Visitors came from far and wide to their park. Here's a video of their efforts before the park was destroyed.

 Then the worst thing happened; At 6am one morning, Labour controlled Thanet Council sent in a team, with security guards in support, and smashed their skate park to rubble. One year later, this is what still remains of their park and the Council have stated they are now in talks with an unknown company with a commercial interest in the site. This is one of the most shameful acts of Thanet Council that I've heard of in the eight years that I've lived here. It's an issue that I've continued to question the Council about.

 Last night I saw that Little Oasis skaters had launched a new website posing questions from the skaters directly to the candidates in the upcoming election for May 7th. It gives me great pleasure to be able to reply and to again offer them my support. They're posting the responses they get from candidates in the order they receive them on their website. There's also a link on their site to their online petition, now standing strong at over 4000 signatures. This is an amazing piece of work from a community group of young people who have proven they are engaged in the place they live. What needs to change is how the existing democratic system engages with them and supports their efforts. This episode is one of my main motivations for deciding to stand for election for Margate Central.

Things need to change.

 They asked:

"On April 13th we asked candidates for the Thanet constituencies and for Thanet District Council two questions about the derelict Oasis Crazy Golf site in Cliftonville.

  1. Thousands of people have said that they want the Oasis site on the seafront in Cliftonville to be used as a skate park. They believed that a community-built and run skate park would be an asset for the community and an attraction to visitors. Do you agree with them that the site should be a skate park?
  2. If you do agree, how will you use elected office to achieve this goal?"
Here's our reply from me as a Thanet North Green Party candidate:
  1. We've always supported the people making Little Oasis site so successful. We agree 100% that the Oasis site should be a skate park and that's why we turned up and offered to help. We've offered support and advice right from the beginning on how to secure the site as a community group. We know that the current council set up can seem impenetrable and closed to young people and that there is a feeling that you are not being listened to. It should be a great skate park, built by skaters for skaters.I'm a founder and Steering Group member of the Margate Neighbourhood Plan Forum and we've already agreed to do the work to nominate the Little Oasis Skate Park area to be registered as a official Community Asset of Value to protect it from inappropriate development and to secure it as a skate park for community use. As a constituted group of 21 signatories, this is one of the important roles we can fulfil. This at the heart of Neighbourhood Planning. This is just one of a number of leisure sites that have been identified and will be nominated under this important national scheme.It was utterly devastating to hear how the skate park was smashed to bits by the Council at 6am one morning. It's one of the most shameful episodes in Thanet Council's history. So I'm really pleased to see your initiative to bring the Little Oasis Crazy Skate back on the agenda.

  2. We're already working to make sure the site is nominated as a Community Asset of Value to stop any future development.

I've not only supported Little Oasis Crazy Skate since the beginning, but also other groups such as the campaign to renovate the 1977 Hartsdown Skate Park (see my FOIs on that ongoing debacle here and here) and the crisis that had befallen the O'Neill's Boxing Club with their roof caving in, many of the young boxers are now at Pej Court Boxing Club in Westbrook. My Margate Central running mate and Thanet North MP candidate, Ed Targett boxes there. Grass roots sports facilities are vital for young people. I look forward to the day when we as a community will no longer need petitions to be heard by the Council. That young and old, should have a seat at the table to participate more than once every four years. Let's ride!  

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