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Why this small Yorkshire town is at the heart of an unlikely global campaign about skateboarding

Written by on 14/08/2021

One of the world’s most famous skateboarders has thrown his support behind a campaign to restore a skate park in North Yorkshire.

The small town of Norton-on-Derwent is now at the heart of an unlikely global campaign after the council resisted proposals to refurbish its 20-year-old halfpipe.

In a video message, skateboarding icon Tony Hawk said: “If the skate parks are deteriorating we need to fix them up, we need more public skate parks and the council should be helping you.”

Tony Hawk flew to Tokyo to cheer on competitors after skateboarding became an Olympic sport for the first time
Image: Tony Hawk flew to Tokyo to cheer on competitors after skateboarding became an Olympic sport for the first time
Sky Brown, 13, won bronze for Team GB in the first-ever women's park skateboarding event at the Olympics. Pic: AP
Image: Sky Brown, 13, won bronze for Team GB in the first-ever women’s park skateboarding event at the Olympics. Pic: AP

Sky Brown, the 13-year-old who won bronze in the women’s park skateboarding for Team GB at the Tokyo Olympics, has echoed Hawk’s calls.

The governing body for skateboarding in Great Britain has claimed an “out-of-date stigma” could be why some councils are reticent to support skate park development.

Despite skateboarding achieving a newfound global profile after its successful debut at the Games, Skateboard GB says the sport can get “wrapped up in a wider ‘fear of youth’ narrative, fear of young people and anti-social behaviour”.

Chris Lawton, the organisation’s community development officer, believes councils need to see the “positive impact” that the sport can have in a local area.

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He added that skateboarding prides itself on being accessible – and for a very small amount of money, anyone can have the same kit as an Olympian.

“A pair of trainers and a skateboard is all you need, which means that for people from low-income backgrounds can engage in skateboarding at whatever level they want to,” Mr Lawton explained.

Ryan Swain is spearheading the campaign to get the halfpipe restored to its former glory
Image: Ryan Swain is spearheading the campaign to get the halfpipe restored to its former glory

Campaigners say they have secured tens of thousands of pounds to restore the skate park in North Yorkshire – but the mayor of Norton-on-Derwent says she has “never seen anything on the table about money” and does not believe a DIY job will be enough.

Councillor Ann Spencer said the council “never had any intention at all” of closing the skate park, but said renovations would be negligent if they didn’t comply with health and safety regulations.

Campaigners say they have secured tens of thousands in funding to refurbish the halfpipe
Image: Campaigners say they have secured tens of thousands in funding to refurbish the halfpipe

She added: “One concern is the money, the other concern is supervision. Most of these huge things are inside where they’re supervised – unfortunately you do have to pay for them, that’s what happens with most sports these days, you have to go to a sports centre and you have to pay.”

Skateboarder Ryan Swain, who is leading the campaign to restore the ramp, said the halfpipe is an “iconic” part of the North of England.

He added: “It was incredible for this area, people used to travel from far and wide to use it, not just nationally, but internationally as well, and that’s why it’s so special and it deserves the recognition it’s getting.”

 Sky News

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