In the first part of this ongoing series of editorials, I talked about what it was about the skateparks in Coventry which has lead to them being unsatisfactory for the skaters of the city. As a final word on that article, let me put it this way – imagine if you’d paid money for a tennis court, and when you went to use it for the first time, only half of the court had been built. Needless to say, you’d feel like you hadn’t got your money’s worth, and the full potential of a tennis court’s “design” hadn’t been fully realised. I mean, sure, you can still play tennis on it, but you’d feel as though there was something fundamentally odd about it and there’d be a burning thought at the back of your mind that you could’ve got something so much better for the same money. If you’re failing to understand that there’s a need for a new skatepark (or at least an extension to an existing park), then just think about how annoyed you’d be if taxpayers money had paid for a group of facilities that didn’t make the most of the money that had been injected into them. Think about football pitches, built on rough gravel as opposed to lush grass, or basketball courts where the basket is half the size. In terms of build quality and general design, we’re pretty much facing that kind of situation with skateparks in Coventry, as well as many other places all over the country.

People may sit there thinking “Well why should the council use our hard earn tax money for something like a skatepark?”. Well taxpayers money goes into skateparks in America as well, moreso than in this country (and they get taxed less than we do!), and they can afford amazing facilities that take up hundreds of square feet.

We’re not asking for hundreds of square feet. We’re asking for a well designed, well thought out skatepark which has had equal input from the skaters and the council, to provide something that everyone is happy with. There are those of you who may want to step forward and argue the point all day, that there are better things to use taxpayer’s money on, but I’m quite sure the money used to maintain and build additions to parks isn’t the same fund used to repair the awful roads/potholes in this city. Memorial Park has a £2.8 million cash injection headed it’s way. A decent addition to the skatepark there would cost about £100,000 – that’s a rough estimate. That’s not even an eighth of the total amount of money being used. There’d still be plenty of money to modernise the monument, resurface the paths, plant new trees and build an awesome playground.  Less than 10% of the money allocated to the memorial park – A LOT LESS – could provide something interesting and long-lasting for the skaters of Coventry, and provided there is the right level of communication between the council and skaters, then the majority of people using the facility wouldn’t get bored of it and “demand another skatepark”.

I’m 24 years old, I’m not stupid, and I know for a fact that a lot of money has gone to waste on skateparks already. I say the money’s been wasted, but only because the skateparks we have aren’t really what people actually want. They’re what the council thinks are good skateparks. They get used, but it’s because it’s all we have. These skateparks are local to us, and we skate them because they’re on our doorsteps. Nobody travels to Coventry to skate our parks and even people who live here who have the luxary of owning a car choose to use large amounts of petrol on driving elsewhere just to skate something interesting. People in this city who skateboard, ride BMX and rollerblade are commited to their crafts and love what they do – more people are taking up these activities now than ever before, with numbers equalling the number of people playing traditional sports as proved in this article on the popularity of skateboarding in America during this decade. A knock-on effect of this popularity has lead to schools in the UK offering skateboarding coaching, as offered by the UKSA and Rubicon Skateboards. These coaching regimes also lead to road trips, where eventually kids will see that the skateparks in other areas past Warwickshire are infinately better in design and build quality than anything we have the Coventry area. The better they get and the more kids see these skateparks and find themselves watching videos of people skating amazing facilities in places as near as Nottingham, Burton-on-Trent, Milton Keynes, Stoke-on-Trent, Leicester and Worcester, the more they’ll question why the facilities in Coventry aren’t the same standard as ones found in the aforementioned locations and why we have parks like Longford skatepark and the skatepark in Wkyen.

Some of you will never understand skateboarding and some of you will never understand what makes one skatepark better than another – some of you seem to think that the skaters in Coventry are just trying to sap money from the council so we can spend all day skateboarding. As I’ve said I’m 24, I’m a university graduate who is currently employed, and many of my fellow skateboarders are also fully grown adults who work. If I were a tennis player, or a football player, I’d still be doing the same thing – trying to get a top quality facility to practice my favourite past-time. You may complain about your tax money being “wasted” on a skatepark, but at least a skatepark would be a use of money that literally everyone can enjoy, as skateboarding is a past-time that literally anyone can do. Surely it’s better to use tax money so people can be active, healthy and have fun, rather than deal out millons of pounds of dole money to people who aren’t actually looking for a job and have no intention of doing so?

That last sentence was a little bit catty wasn’t it? In all seriousness: sure, there are “better” things to use tax money for, like fixing potholes, improving police services, and improving our schools, but there are also “worse” things – a skatepark promotes health, being active, being social, meeting other like minded individuals and getting a nice dose of fresh air, and in all honesty, how can you say that isn’t a good use of tax payer’s money?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go and take in the skatepark experience. Hopefully one day you can all join me.