SKATEBOARDING in Steyning is in the hands of residents, say councillors, who have slammed a school for abandoning the community that created it.
At a meeting of the full parish council, at the Steyning Centre on Monday, chairman David Barling said a public meeting would be held on the only site now under consideration for a skatepark, the Memorial Playing Fields, and a show of hands would be taken at the end.
He added he and Horsham district councillors, Sue Rogers and George Cockman, and West Sussex county councillor, Derek Deedman, had written to Steyning Grammar School’s governors, asking for the possibility of the park being placed on school land to be looked at, but a request for a meeting had been flatly refused.
Marlene Carman, councillor, said: “Over the last few years, the community aspect of the grammar school has disappeared.
“In the past, it has helped so many people in Steyning, but it is sad Steyning Grammar School had shed that opportunity to work as part of the community.
“The school has got where it is, and the facilities is has got, through the community. It’s very sad it has taken seven steps back.”
Mr Barling said he and colleagues had been disappointed with the response they had received from governors.
“I have had a letter unfortunately saying they were not prepared to change their views on this, and they were not prepared to meet with us.
“I am very disappointed that we have had such a response,” he said, adding the school felt it did not have enough land to house the facility.
Mrs Rogers agreed the reply had been disappointing, but said the door had been left “ever so slightly open”, and that she hoped to take governors up on the invitation of a tour of the school grounds.
“We will continue to try,” she added.
Fellow parish councillor, Philip Hoare, said it was important the residents of the town knew the council had approached the school about the possibility of building the park, the siting of which has proved controversial since it was first mooted last year, on its land.
“A number of people have spoken to me, and asked why we have not spoken to the school about it,” he said.
Mr Barling said the park would only go ahead if the community wanted it.
“There has been no formal decision taken at all,” he said.
“Members of the parish council have a general wish to provide a skatepark, but the difficulty we have is finding a suitable location.
“We have examined about six sites and we have narrowed it down to only one.”
The public meeting, which will only be open to residents of the town, will be held at the Steyning Centre on January 28, at 3pm.
Parish councillor Tim Lloyd will give a presentation on the proposals, for a Tarmac strip on the field, which will include details of audio reports and artists’ impressions of what the park could look like.
Residents will then be invited to give their views, before a vote is taken, the result of which would be taken into account before the council moved forward.