So what we going to do to ‘Save Our Skate Park’ – that cracking community asset that has once again, descended in decay and disrepair.
So shocking that the nifty Knap site built in memory of Richard Taylor, the Welsh inline skating and freestyle skiing champion from Barry who died after a freak accident in 2004, is now a heart-breaking health and safety hazard in dire need of refurbishment and repair.
It has become dilapidated, dangerous, and faces disappearing from our town completely.
What a waste of one of the few perfect places for our young people to actually have something to do – keeping active and finding a focal point to meet their mates.
For me, it’s the perfect place for; would-be Sky Browns to show off their sharp skills, bold Barrians to feel optimistic about making their mark in this now Olympic sport, or just gives our racing residents, of any age, the chance to have some fun in the fresh air.
It also, I’m told, causes no chaos for nearby residents, is well-respected as a mark to Richard’s memory, and is much-used by skaters and spectators alike.
What’s not to love?
Truth be told, it’s not as if our lovely local authority didn’t see this coming either. They commissioned some repair work a couple of years and must have realised that such a popular place used repeatedly by residents would need to be marvellously maintained.
Or is it that dreadful disconnect again where our elected officials fail to feel, or even find out, what our town wants and needs.
Shall I say it again. Thirteen million quid in reserves, a Council Tax Hike, revenue from traders’ outside tables, cash from communities to park outside their homes – and the Vale Council can’t seem cough up the £150,000 cash to keep it going.
And before I start getting mansplained about the prudence of cash reserves, told that there’s no need to call the Council out from a keyboard, or that the double whammy of BREXIT and COVID-19 have left us seriously skint, it’s the lack of ‘reading the room,’ and the often heavy-handed approach to issues that hits home for me.
Mind you, in fairness, a little Barry bird tells me that our local authority are keen to keep the Skate Park open, and last week met privately with Richard’s Family. No idea what was said, none of my business, but I will be watching this space for some sort of solution.
Local man, and former skater, Richard Colbourne, has also taken up the campaigning cause as concerns increase that the still being used locked up site could be the scene of a serious incident soon.
His ‘Have the council refurbish the Richard Taylor skate park’ Petition has been widely shared on the Socials and was up to 3449 signatures last time I looked.
I signed it swiftly of course, and feel strongly enough to put pen to paper to try to try to spur the Council, a Crowdfunder, or even another Community Fund into action.
Not just because I want to have a pop at the current ruling administration, or roll my eyes at the local authority’s latest little controversy, but because I truly believe it is better to see the Skate Park restored to its former glory rather than let it sink into rack and ruin.
Like Mr Colbourne, I feel that it is both one of our town’s scarce community assets that we should treat with a bit of long overdue TLC.
And because it was built as a tribute to a local lad from a well-known Barry family, who put the town on the map with his skating skills.
Surely we should show some respect by honouring his name, sorting the site out, and making some strategic plans to maintain his memory and the Park well into the future.
What do you think?
The Voice Of Our Community
HEADS UP: In March 2022, the new Richard Taylor Memorial Skatepark gets the go ahead after a £1000 Roger Palmer brings the full total to just over £40k.
Thanks to funding by the Vale of Glamorgan Council, Sport Wales, Waterloo Foundation, South Wales Police Youth Trust, and individual generous donations, it’s game on.
Sue Vincent-Jones, blogging as Mrs SVJ, is a Barry born journalist, editor, and communications specialist. She writes about Barry – and her life in the wider world, through the eyes of a, quirky and queer, local girl done good.
Written exclusively for the Vale’s newest newspaper, and digital platform, The Glamorgan Star, her latest ‘Passing Comment’ column, an addition to the infamous Sue’s Views collection, can be found here.