If you’re in the Coventry and Warwickshire area there’s some more sad news for the local skate scene this week. Suddenly and with little warning, Bedworth skatepark has been ripped down, with the local council claiming the ramps to be in an unsafe condition.
I’m not going to sit here and say I was the biggest fan in the world of Bedworth – in fact I had some really shit memories of the park. I almost had my car nicked there after some chavs stole my car keys out of my coat (literally the reason I keep my keys on a carabiner attached to my trousers now), I had my fair share of slams in the summer which left me with burns from the metal ramps. But, a loss of any local skatepark is a blow to the whole community.
In particular there are a few local skaters who I know loved Bedworth, and called the place home for years. Ryan Krusts, Chizel, Zaak Brown and many other dudes who I’ve had the good fortune to skate with over the years frequented the place regularly, and in particular I know Chiz was super gutted about it – him and a few other graff artists had acted as “caretakers” for the park, occasionally treating the old girl to a lick of fresh paint with some rad murals to keep the place looking colourful and bright.
The saddest part isn’t that what is there is gone, it’s that the local council seemingly have no plans firmly in place to replace what they removed. Despite a 300 name petition being raised 4 years ago to renovate and replace the aging skatepark, Bedworth and Nuneaton Council have sort of stagnated and left the place to rot. The skatepark’s replacement is officially “on hold” due to the council wanting to shell out over £30million on a whole new leisure complex – but I’d argue that the presence of no skatepark is an urgent matter and if they were serious about replacement they would act now.
Replacing a skatepark that was the size of Bedworth’s footprint isn’t cheap, sure – but I would argue that the rest of the leisure facility the council wish to replace is still in good working order, and the skatepark is a drop in the ocean compared to the massive cash injection needed to do the rest of the work for a new swimming baths, new gyms, new playparks, and other sporting facilities. And because skateparks cater to many different activities, they are real bang for your buck.
I label this as urgent, because replacing a beloved well used skatepark in an area that has a high amount of skatepark users isn’t easy or quick. This sort of situation isn’t anything new unfortunately. The same thing happened in Leamington Spa: the beloved metal mini ramp (funnily enough built by Bedworth builder’s GBH) was scrapped due to rot underneath the ramp, and it took a total of 5 years to replace what was removed. And that was just to replace a mini ramp – admittedly what stands in Leamington’s Victoria Park now is far bigger than the footprint of a mini ramp which may have added time, effort and cost, but this goes to show that we could see a whole generation of kids come and go before Bedworth gets anything adequate to replace the old skatepark.
I completely understand about how complaining about this now doesn’t solve the problem, but Bedworth and Nuneaton County Council should have been well aware of the state of the ramps long before this. This is the latest example of a clueless council dumping down a early 2000’s monstrosity that is unfit for purpose 20 years later. This is the story of pretty much every skatepark in the whole of Coventry & Warwickshire. Every metal tin can nightmare is warped and rotten underneath, every pre-fab Bendcrete park dumped throughout the county is falling apart showing how low quality they are.
It surprises me that Bedworth of all places, with one of the largest footprints of any local park, didn’t get revamped sooner – considering the place is always full and has somewhat of a cult following amongst a certain subset of local skaters. My frustrations, as always, lie with local councils not being willing to actually do what is right by skateboarding and provide decent facilities from the start. And when faced with the opportunity to right the ship and give local skatepark users great facilities that will last longer than 10 years, they stall and leave an empty, soulless patch of tarmac in their wake.
If you’re affected by this, if Bedworth was your local, and if you’re pissed off that you now don’t have a skatepark – The council need to hear your frustrations. And in the meantime… This might be the perfect chance to turn Bedworth into something akin to Bournbrook DIY in Birmingham. Because at least that way, there will be something to skate, and what is built will finally be in the hands of locals skatepark users and not clueless councils.
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