Skatepark neglect leads to safety fears

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Skaters in Liverpool are calling for skateparks to receive more funding  after describing them as ‘un-skatable’.

Broken glass, graffiti and litter have been highlighted as common issues within the parks, all leading to health and safety risks for skaters and the public.

Seventeen active skateparks currently exist within Merseyside following a one-million-pound investment into a skatepark network in 2014. However, the poor condition of these parks is now seeing skaters moving onto flat public spaces such as the Pier Head which can be dangerous for skaters and the public alike.

Robert Freeman, who has been skating casually for seven years, said:“It’s not the number of skateparks that’s the issue, more money needs to be put towards the maintenance.

“Often, they’re quite run down, it’s not necessarily the skater’s fault but ramps get damaged or graffitied making ramps slippery.

“There are options to skate in Liverpool, like Rampworks is one of the best places to go. But with Covid it’s shut and often can be quite pricy depending on how long you want to go for.

“The best options are just finding outdoor flat areas, like down at the docks. But that is not exactly the safest thing. There are people cycling across left right and centre. If a skateboard hit a cyclist or a pedestrian it’s not exactly the best result.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to more people skating now than ever. Slick Willies Skate shop has reported that the demand for roller skates on their website has increased by 1,017 percent compared to before lockdown.

Emilia Bona is the chair of city-based roller derby team, Liverpool Roller Birds, and has called for investment into facilities.

She said: “We have more skateparks in Liverpool then anywhere else I have ever lived. The issue I think we have with a lot of them is that they kind of double as playparks.

“By virtue of where some of them are there are a lot of little kids on scooters and really young toddlers. If you’re trying to do skills it makes you very conscious of not wanting to hit a child.”

“It would be nice to have more investment into skate parks and skate facilities, but knowing how cash-strapped the council is and the investment needed in lifestyle centres that is more of an all-round sporting facility, it’s understandable if they want to invest more money into that as skating is a niche sport.”

About Marianna Owen, JMU Journalism