Hey all! Just a quick piece about a petition I'd really appreciate you to sign.
Basically, I run www.facebook.com/selongboarding a Southend based community of skateboarders, helping guide and developing downhill Longboarding in the area.
Visit the page and you'll see there's plenty going on and we promote a good, healthy message.
PAST: There is a concrete road along Clifton Avenue in Southend which was a CLOSED (open for public access but gated) maintenance road leading down to a cliff slip, which has been left for years. There were dangerous stairs at the bottom which lead to the seafront. People still went in the fenced area to smoke weed and drink etc,(classy), but this problem was mostly ignored by the authorities (FACT)... However, the ONE real shred of POSITIVITY in this area, was the skaters and bands of people using the road leading down to this area. This included weekday, weekend friendly sport practice, unofficial organised competitions and bringing tourism to Southend alongside young people following their passions in terms of filming and photography.
With a good week of weather you'd see 50+ mainly young people enjoying, practising developing and exercising through skateboarding. Alongside older and experienced members of the community, a good ethic and morality developed around the space, leading people to CARE for a disused and abandoned space. Good links were built with local residents and businesses.
Being a closed road, it offered skaters a SAFE place to practice, rather than on OPEN ROADS in Southend and neighbouring towns. We have gained media coverage from local newspapers, and support from local and national businesses.
PRESENT: Currently the road comes to a dead end, blocked off where the council had set up barriers/fences around the cliff slip area to hide the problem of the slip. The entire road and walkway is BLOCKED OFF except for heavy trucks and works vehicles for the redevelopment of the cliff slip. (POSITIVE GENERALLY) - This road is, according to planning posters, to be made LONGER and thus better for those who regularly skate there.
FUTURE: UNCERTAIN. WORKS ARE BEING COMPLETED ON THE AREA.
We believe a few outcomes may occur.
1. We are concerned that the road, once work is completed, will be deliberately ruined for skateboarders to devoid the council of responsibility, under the false-illusion of " Ensuring Safety".
2. Reopened as a public walkway, and skateboarders will be told off for skating in this space by authorities, due to public lack of pedestrian awareness.
3. Specifically banning the use of skateboards on this hill on ground of safety, but not amending the hill itself.
These options lead to: a removed provision in the area, creating something which was pro- socially approved of (Police were in support of us while on the beat), to become an anti-social activity, actually adding to A.S.B and wasted police time. The above also gives the message of discouraging physical activity from young and older people in alternative sports alongside many other negative outcomes.
These are all short sighted, naive and negative options to what could be a positive, nurturing and simple choice to develop a first in the UK and an easy to manage shared space for the community as a whole.
Suggestion of what SHOULD happen with the space:
1. Keep the road as it is going to be according to plans, enable a good and consistent surface for all users in terms of safety, look and function.
2. Spray-paint or signpost that the hill is a "SHARED SPACE" clearly marking "skateboarding allowed" at top, bottom and along the hill. - This enables public to be aware of space users.
3. Work with local skate community group, Southend Longboarding, to develop an agreed code of conduct for users of the space, INCLUDING, things like wearing protective equipment, being respectful to other users of the space, not doing anything that would put others at risk and skating within limits. etc etc. - This gives authority figures i.e, public servants and police to clearly see who is practising safely or not, as prescribed by those 'IN the know'.
We understand our request is not conventional, and that there are factors in terms of liability and maintenance to consider, but both, in reality are minimal asks for a positive outcome in many areas.
Firstly, People ARE aware of their own actions, sign it up and people agree to it be practising, no-one would do bungee jumping and not realise there is no risk involved.... We care and love what we do, better here and accepted, then on open roads and forbidden.
Secondly,Southend has made a huge deal over it's redevelopment, and creating so-called, "shared spaces" for pedestrians, cyclists and transport systems to live and move harmoniously with one another.... How about we see this concept become a little bolder; daring and support SPORT in the area. BE THE FIRST town in the UK to enable downhill skateboarders to practice in a safer space.
We are, after-all in the post Olympic boom.... lets see the money and time put into sport in our "great" Britian, doing something really great, for the people to whom this space means a whole lot to.
SIGN HERE AND SUPPORT: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/southend-borough-council-local-businesses-designate-the-clifton-terrace-maintenance-road-a-safe-space-to-skateboard