Thumbs up for skatepark

HUNTINGDON S £180,000 skate park has cleared its penultimate hurdle. All it needs now is planning consent. The district council s cabinet last week agreed to contribute the last £20,000 cost of the project, which will move skate-boarders from the Chequers

HUNTINGDON'S £180,000 skate park has cleared its penultimate hurdle. All it needs now is planning consent.

The district council's cabinet last week agreed to contribute the last £20,000 cost of the project, which will move skate-boarders from the Chequers Court area of the town centre to Stukeley Meadows.

But the council refused to pay the £10,000-a-year cost of running the scheme, which councillors said was the responsibility of Huntingdon Town Council - which has contributed not a penny to the capital cost, said deputy leader, Councillor Mike Simpson, who lives at Stukeley Meadows.

Executive councillor for finance Terry Rogers said: "This is a facility for the town council and it should be asked to take over the running costs. Otherwise it is getting away with not funding the project at all."

The council's funding decision suddenly became crucial when the Youth Bank announced that its £40,000 contribution had become conditional on the work being commissioned before the end of 2007.

Luckily, however, many components of the park have to be pre-fabricated off-site - work that does not need to wait for the planners, said Sue Lammin, the council's head of environmental and community health services.

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There are three possible sites at Stukeley Meadows - where most of the town centre skaters live - the favoured one being near the Homebase roundabout on Stukeley Road, Dr Lammin added.

"The young people are quite specific about what they want. We are equally specific about the quality of the equipment and controlling the noise."

The Big Lottery Fund has promised £60,000 towards the project, with other large contributions from developers, the company manufacturing the ramps and Huntingdon Freemen's Charity. Huntingdon Community Safety Partnership has promised £8,000 and other contributions will be made by Sainsbury's - which will be relieved of skaters outside the entrance to its store - and the skaters themselves.

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