Plan for Pontefract Park would see skatepark, bike trails, walks and picnic area
A new group of roller sport enthusiasts are calling for the public to get behind plans for a skatepark and bike tracks in Pontefract Park.
The committee is being led by Chris Pennock, 62, who has been involved with a lot of community activities in the Five Towns area, from snowboarding instructing at Xscape to kayak instructing at the former Knottingley sports centre.
To gain traction, the committee set up a Facebook page called Pontefract Bike & Skate Hub, which has been well-received by the public, gaining nearly 2000 likes.
The vision is to fit out the park with bike trails, incorporating new planting, walks and picnic area and a skate park near the new sports complex.
Chris Pennock said: “Giving back to the community is so important and it saddens me to see lots of the community clubs being neglected, particularly after the closures of some of the swimming baths in the Five Towns and Knottingley sports centre.
“There are so many new housing estates being built locally and of course plenty of existing residents, but not a lot of money is being put back into the community in terms of activities.
“A couple of cycle trails and a skate park would be brilliant, the aim is to put them in Pontefract park, which is one of the biggest grounds in the area.
“I want a safe, exciting area where our children and grandchildren can gain interest and progress in activities like skating and biking - it’s their future we need to look out for.
“Kids who are focused and true to the sport will skate until their feet drop off and those who enjoy biking and jumping will gain progression and enjoyment.”
“That’s why I decided to set up the quest to get bike trails and a skate park in Pontefract park, it would be a fantastic area for it, due to the size.
"Plus the park is already becoming a bit of leisure hub with the existing sports complex.
“A few bike trails are not a lot to ask for, they can be integrated with the existing nature trails.”
Backing Chris’ vision is the Pontefract Bike & Skate Hub committee, made up of Karl Neville, a skateboard coach, Christopher Coburn-Hall, a biker, Joanne Draper, project manager, Jim Cain, secretary, Rachel Riley, treasurer, Wayne Stones, who has been researching successful bike parks in the region and Paul Cartwright, chair of Pontefract Civic society.
The committee have been doing research into funding for the facilities to be built, they say the best way to fund it would be through a variety of sources, including public funding and help from the council.
And they have been in touch with various councillors, including Coun Lorna Malkin about pushing the plans forward.
Coin Malkin said: “Pontefract Councillors are supportive of having a skate park for the town, but we do have some reservations about it being sited in Pontefract Park.
“We have asked council officers to come up with a few options for the location as part of the feasibility process.
“Also as part of this process we will be consulting young people through our Active and Inspired project which is being delivered by the Youth Service over the next two years.
"I anticipate that funding for a skate park would have to come from a variety of sources, including bids for public funding.
"This feasibility process therefore is crucial to securing those public funds.
“I have told Chris that I will keep him updated and I would hope that he and his group would get involved with the design of the facility when that point in the process is reached.”
Despite the interest the plans have received, concerns have been raised about the skatepark potentially attracting antisocial behavior in the park.
Inspector Phillippa Child from Wakefield East and South East Neighbourhood Policing team said: "I welcome the idea for somewhere for kids and teenagers to go and socialise in Pontefract.
“However I would be concerned that a skate park could be a target for anti-social behaviour.
“I am open to discussions with the people behind the idea to come up with a suitable way forward."
The committee say these concerns can be tackled with cctv cameras and street lights.
Wayne Stones, member of the Pontefract bike and skate hub committee said: "I’m at a loss as to why the police think that it would be a target for anti-social behaviour.
“Look at the state the racecourse was left in after hundreds of teens descended on it over lockdown and spent the evenings drinking.
"Anti social behaviour happens everywhere and the police should deal with it accordingly, not deny facilities because they’re concerned it would attract the wrong sort.
“I’d love to have the chance to speak to them about it, I’ve also been contacted by the Civic Society and numerous councillors, all seem keen to push it forward, fingers crossed."
To find out more see Pontefract Bike & Skate Hub on Facebook