Wrangle over bid for skate park

A SUGGESTION of foul play over the quest to build a new skate park in Portishead has angered some councillors.

As members of Portishead Skatepark Project continue their fight to create a free outdoor skate park in the town, some supporters have been uncovering details using the Freedom of Information Act in an attempt to discover why finding a suitable site is proving so difficult.

Speaking at the October town council meeting, resident Annette Hennessy said it had come to her attention that Cllr Arthur Terry had misled a North Somerset Council scrutiny panel, which was discussing if a lease should be granted for a skate park at the Lake Grounds, by suggesting the town council did not support the idea despite a previous vote backing the move.

North Somerset Council later refused permission for such a facility at the beauty spot. However, Cllr Terry has denied misleading the scrutiny panel.

He said: “I pointed out to the panel I was the current chairman of Portishead Town Council and the previous council prior to the election had supported the proposal in principle.

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“I also said that in my opinion, the present members may take a different view on the matter now they had seen more details of the project and the anticipated capital and revenue costing.”

At the town council meeting, former councillor Liese Stanley and Portishead businessman Paul Maltby questioned the transparency of dealings regarding the skate park.

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Ms Stanley said it is disappointing that despite residents repeatedly raising concerns, questions remain unanswered.

Mr Maltby highlighted the fact Cllr Terry had previously suggested the Station Road/Parish Wharf area should be reconsidered for a skate park site, despite North Somerset Council having already deemed it unsuitable.

Cllr Terry then said he would not stay at the meeting if the public session continued, taking it way over its allotted time limit, and left when Mr Maltby was allowed to continue. Cllr Barry Walters also walked out “in the name of solidarity.”

Mr Maltby said: “More and more evidence is coming to light about the way the skate park issue has been handled by the council. If certain councillors are going to leave meetings whenever they hear something they don’t like, I fear they will be spending a long time standing outside the door.

“In a democratic society local people have a right to express their opinion.”

In response, Cllr Terry said he is aware a North Somerset Council officer had considered the Station Road site to be unsuitable for a skate park facility, but the location had never been discussed by decision-making members.

He added: “I believe it could, with reasonable noise attenuation measures, provide a similar above ground facility to the one at Merlin Park. I also believe if this site could be obtained then it would be reasonable for the town council to commit some funding towards it.”

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