Debenham: Village split after skatepark meeting

A row has broken out in a Suffolk village after a meeting was held to discuss the plan to build a skatepark.

Project D, the group behind the proposal to create a skatepark at Debenham’s Recreation Ground, in Aspall Road, organised the meeting last month.

Members from the opposition group said it was a “waste of time” attending as there was no opportunity for a full and frank debate.

Project D chairman Jane Baldwin said that only a few people were participating in a “calm and reasoned discussion”.

Debenham Parish Council has moved to reduce the tension by assuring villagers that all points of view will be considered despite the decision on the skatepark’s location having already been made.

The council has said the plans for the skatepark may be discussed in an agenda item at a parish council meeting on July 16.

Nicole Kerr-Gibson, who opposes the plan to build the skatepark in the Recreation Ground, said: “It would be right near a cemetery, it’s just not appropriate.

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“There’s been no consultation or discussion about it. The information evening was not the forum to discuss it, they outlined where the site was going to be, lots of people turned up.

“We need to get people around a table to discuss it.”

Miss Kerr-Gibson said that the group was in favour of the initial plan to install the park near the Debenham Sports and Leisure centre.

The opposition group has said that they have nearly 500 names on a petition against the plans.

Mrs Baldwin said that so far 250 people had signed a petition backing the plans to create a skatepark in the village.

“We fully appreciate the frustrations and concerns of the people who are against the decision taken by the parish council to locate the skatepark at the Recreation Ground,” she said.

“Only a few people actually participated in calm and reasoned discussions, the rest simply did not want to know, not looking at the information available and not giving us the opportunity to respond when being spoken at. It was a difficult evening.”

Parish council chairman Richard Blackwell issued this statement: “Debenham Parish Council would like to thank all parishioners who have taken the time to express their comments about the parish council’s decision to site the skatepark at the Aspall Road Recreation Ground.

“The Project D information evening on Wednesday, May 30, was very well attended and there have been numerous comments and issues raised, both for and against the decision.

“The parish council will now consider the comments received and review certain aspects of the skatepark in light of information received from Mid Suffolk District Council.”

The parish council has spent �4,500 on second-hand ramps for the skatepark.

Project D is now expected to apply for grant funding.