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Lament for a Skatepark | Historical Notes

Lament for a Skatepark

A skateboard facility for Inverleith Park was first mooted by Edinburgh Council in 2004.

by Bernard Kuenssberg 
(reprinted from The Inverleith News, Spring 2007)

??A skateboard facility for Inverleith Park was first mooted by Edinburgh Council in 2004. Some £500,000 had been ring-fenced for a first-class sports arena for this popular activity, now an Olympic sport and ‘the second most popular sport in the Scout Movement’. It was the first time that new money had been found for any sporting facility for young people in Inverleith Park - new or otherwise - that any Committee member could remember.

The first proposal was for a site on the western edge near the pitch and putt course, above the pond. However, after initial loud protests from residents of East Fettes Avenue, a ground survey was performed for a second proposal opposite the Botanic Garden west gate. This was unattractive, being further away from bus services. Car parking was also minimal, due to competition with visitors to the Botanic Garden, let alone Standard Life employees and others who used this street as a Park and Walk. Geology and ground water defeated this plan and so it was back to the western edge option - nearest to shops and buses, as well as offering car parking along East Fettes Avenue. It was also near Broughton School, so the often repeated charge of ‘reason for skipping school’ might be more obviously challenged as a reason for objecting (though this persisted).

Opposition was highly organised and vociferous, from a variety of geographically proximate groups. There was repeated mention of parking chaos, litter, noise levels, toilet need and even attraction for paedophiles, though why those already using the park for pitch and putt, golf practice, boules, football, rugby, softball, model boat drivers, etc., do not attract such attention is difficult to explain. One group even paraded the attraction that skateboarding would have ‘for anti-social people who don’t skateboard’!
To read the evolution, distillation and history of the proposal, it is interesting to Google ‘Skateboard Park Inverleith’ and read the current 546 entries! Your society was seen by the Scotsman (17 November 2006) as being one of many organisations against the skateboard park plan. Whilst agreeing that none on the Committee were active skateboarders, the Committee’s objections were more concerned with the lack of obvious planning and budgeting for the secondary services that a competition-standard sports arena would need. They also consistently expressed a lack of faith that the Council would devote energies to maintaining such a first-class facility.

There was actually a recorded plea for a skateboard park in the ‘Inverleith News’ in 1998, so automatic bias should not be assumed. A couple of the Committee members did visit existing skate facilities at Sighthill and Livingston. It was appreciated by your Committee that the final proposed design, sunk into the ground and properly drained, and occupying a footprint of half a tennis court was seen as being highly desirable to the skateboarding community.

To conclude, the proposed skateboard facility was defeated and will no longer be entertained for Inverleith. The many skateboarders who wanted it must wait for a further proposal and a different site - and no doubt another public campaign against the provision of a free sporting facility.