'Board' teens have designs on new skate park for Melrose

Published: 30 Jan 2012 09:302 comments

IT is regarded as the home of rugby. But not everyone in Melrose plays the game.

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And now local school children have called for more sports facilities to be built in the town to give youngsters in the area something else to do.

A delegation of skate boarders, cyclists, and roller bladers made a plea for a new skate park during a meeting of Melrose and District Community Council last week.

They suggested it could be built in Priors Walk Park which, they say, is currently under used.

They claimed they are currently forced to practice in Melrose Square, where they run the risk of knocking over pedestrians, or make an eight-mile round-trip to reach the skate park at the Public Park in neighbouring Galashiels.

But they revealed that is not always possible with the lack of public transport and work on the new Borders railway set to close sections of the Black Path which links the two towns.

Addressing community councillors at their meeting in the Ormiston Institute in Melrose on Wednesday, 16-year-old Niall McLeish said: "We came to ask about a skateboard park in Melrose because there are a lot of young people in Melrose who don't have anything to do.

"We know there are lots of nice sports fields in the town but not everyone plays football or rugby. A lot of people enjoy roller blading, biking and skateboarding in Melrose."

But he added: "There's nowhere for us to practice and we get moaned at if we play with our bikes in the street."

The idea of a new skate park was welcomed by community councillors in Melrose. However, they warned the teenagers it would take a lot of fundraising to get the idea off the ground.

Community council secretary Val Miller said: "It's true these youngsters need somewhere to go, it's not their fault there is nowhere for them to practice, but it won't just happen by magic.

"There were similar plans for a skate park seven or eight years ago which didn't come to anything so it's up to the youngsters and their parents to take it forward."

But she added: "The children's playground at Gibson Park took three years."

The well-spoken teenagers said they would be willing to fundraise for the project. And they received the support of their neighbourhood police.

PC John Dawson, who is based at Melrose Police Station, said: "From a police point of view I would support what you propose. I think it's a great idea. The only problem would be funding."

Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker revealed he believed the local authority was responsible for Priors Walk Park and insisted building a skate park there was "definitely possible".

He pointed out the council had recently completed similar projects in Peebles and Hawick and could work with local youngsters to draft up designs and agree a budget.

Councillor Parker, who represents Melrose and Leaderdale on Scottish Borders Council, said: "It's definitely possible. We have built one in Peebles and Hawick recently so we could get costs in quite quickly and come up with some designs." And he added: "If we can keep the costs manageable then something can be done."

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