Amazing isn’t it the fuss and nonsense caused by a Councillor following up some case work on behalf of constituents? Particularly when it refers to skateboarders! You will recall I’m sure, those who read my blog regularly, that I presented a petition on the matter in 2013 on behalf of residents whose lives had been blighted by noisy and inconsiderate skateboarders. Residents clearly believed they were a nuisance and wanted action taken.
Initially, I arranged a meeting with skateboarders and residents together with Youth Workers and the Police. Whilst this was useful, it only really helped with those skateboarders who wanted to engage. What to do about those that wouldn’t though?
The problem unfortunately continued and that’s where the petition came from. Further meetings were then held with Cabinet members of Coventry City Council, with promises of engagement with skaters but also clear direction to the police, community safety officers and others that where there was a problem, action would be taken to deal with the immediate issue of noise, nuisance and danger. It was clear that a number of skateboarders left the meeting with the idea that a skate park may be in the offing. It was I stress, not something I suggested in any way at all! Residents and skaters left the meeting feeling that they had at least been listened to and looked forward to action.
However, following a recent complaint from a constituent about skateboarders in front of the council house I again I contacted council officers to find out what they were doing about it. This is a normal way to deal with a constituent enquiry.
I copy below the council officers responses to my questions and my comments asking for more information.
‘We have looked at the area in front of the Council House and determined the locations where skateboarding has been taking place from the damage visible. We are proposing to implement a number of skateboard deterrent features in the form of polished chrome studs, the same that has been used within other public realm schemes.’
I was interested to hear the last sentence so asked for further information and got the following reply:
1. We’ve used them most recently around the tree planters in Gosford Street. There is an aspiration to maintain a constant approach to material choice within the City Centre to provide a uniform layout but also assist in future maintenance by having a standardised product.
2. We’ve identified the area under Civic Centre 2 as being particularly vulnerable to skateboarding where there are clear signs of damage to the brickwork being incurred. We will however monitor the area post implementation to see if this problem has been deflected to another area.
3. As part of our public realm improvement works we’ve only used the studs as per the rationale detailed in point 1 above. There are other features available on the market but the studs appear to be an effective solution and used extensively throughout the country.
The officer now had my full attention!
I asked if there were any other skateboard deterrent features of any sort in the city centre. I pointed out it’s about nuisance as well as potential or actual damage. It made me wonder if officers remembered the petition and the actions agreed at that time by the Council. The officer responded by saying:
‘To update we have used a different feature in the Priory Place Development where stainless steel cleats were provided into the mortar between the paving on raised sections.’
Interesting I thought!
I was pleased that these measures were part of a response to the problem and therefore asked officers to consider areas in the city centre where people actually live and have had this nuisance inflicted on them previously. Officers have promised me that as part of the wider ‘public realm’ work particularly around the IKEA building opposite Starley Road and Vicroft Court, attention will be paid to implementing similar skateboard deterrent features which I welcome. Not to have a go at skateboarders I stress but to give residents a bit of peace and quiet.
What this little exchange demonstrates is that I will never take my eye off the ball and will always try and pursue an issue to some kind of logical conclusion on behalf of my constituents. After all, that’s my job!
It’s important that Council officers respond to the public through their elected Councillors where appropriate. Remember: I was elected to the Council to make sure the Council does things and makes decisions in the interests of my constituents. I was not elected to run the council in perpetuity.
I will never forget that important principle.