Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Skatepark Nightmare. You can help

On the 5th November the Wiltshire Council Chippenham Area Board will meet to study the outcome of it's consultations about placing a Concrete Skatepark slap bang in the middle of the River Island Park.. This is where we site our Big Top tent for the annual festival.
The festival Committees have unanimously agreed that this situation is totally unacceptable and have drafted the following letter in response. You can also add your weight to the campaign but we must ask that you do it now as we do not have long to get our feeling heard. If the proposals get as far as planning stage it may prove to be too late. Please either send an email to the Leader of the council,Jane Scott, or the Area Board Chairman, Desna Allen.  Their email links are here: jane.scott@wiltshire.gov.uk  or  desna.allen@wiltshire.gov.uk or victoria.welsh@wiltshire.gov.uk

If you would prefer please email us at skatepark@chippfolk.co.uk and we will send it on the the appropriate persons at the Council
Here is the letter which we have drafted to be sent to the area board

"An open Letter from The offices of Chippenham Folk Festival:
Folk Festival in Jeopardy
Chippenham Folk Festival supports the provision of a diverse range of recreation and sports facilities in Chippenham, and the Festival has been making a full contribution to these over the last 40 years. However, it is clear from the scant details provided that the Island Park cannot accommodate both the main centre of the Chippenham Folk Festival and a permanent skatepark. The illustrations show that too much of the space would be taken up by concrete; vehicular access which currently is verytight would be impossible and there would be insufficient room for the tents/temporary buildings/participants. If the Island Parkis occupied by a skate park the town risks losing the folk festival in its current form.The Chippenham Folk Festival is a non-profit making and entirely voluntary organisation which holds over 200 events in avariety of venues over four days of the Bank Holiday at the end of May.The festival Friday is almost exclusively for local schools and around 300 children have a day of tuition in song, dance, playing instruments and story-telling. In the afternoon the children have an organised dance in the Island Park. Other festival events start in the park on Friday evening. For the next three days there is a minimum daily throughput of around 5,000 people in theIsland Park. Throughout the festival a large number of free activities take place in the Island Park and in the streets for the enjoyment of the public. The street market run on behalf of the Festival by the Rotary Club of Wiltshire Vale on the BankHoliday Monday, can easily attract in excess of 20,000 people (independent assessment in 2009).The Festival provides a unique attraction which draws people from all over the country and beyond. These visitors stay in the locality and typically will spend money locally on accommodation, fuel, food and drink - for them the Folk Festival weekend ispart of a holiday in which they can visit other local attractions. We can quantify how much money the festival tourists spend inChippenham—around £45 -£50 per person each day.Chippenham Folk Festival has a significant beneficial impact on the local economy because the festival itself spends money locally throughout the year and because of the huge number of visitors it generates on the festival weekend A study in 2010 suggeststhat (with the application of recommended multipliers) the festival currently brings well in excess of £1.5 million into the local economy annually. This money comes exclusively to the Chippenham area and its businesses, because of the festival. The festival currently costs £138,000 to stage, but the festival is mainly self-supporting and meets these costs with little or no money from the public purse. The folk festival has been held in the area since 1972, so in that time has probably provided over £30million for Chippenham with virtually no cost to the residents; indeed many of the local residents participate in, look forward to and enjoy the festival.Many folk festivals are run for profit and they make that profit by being on out-of-town sites. The spending is mostly contained within the site and does not go into the local economy. Chippenham Folk Festival prides itself on being within the town and supporting the town’s economy, cultural heritage and education.The Chippenham Town Council and Chippenham Area Board of Wiltshire Council recently honoured the festival organisers with a Civic Award for both their dedication to the folk festival and for the importance of the folk festival to the town of Chippenham.In terms of aesthetics, Chippenham is extraordinarily blessed to have the countryside coming all the way into the town centre.The outlook from the river’s edge may not be perfect and there are certainly utilitarian buildings close by. However, that should spur the residents of Chippenham to protect and nurture the green space they have and not to treat it as a potential development site.The Festival Organisers have seen a number of skate parks and all have been stark, unattractive concrete structures with no redeeming features and the illustrations of the skate park layout tested for this site indicate that this will be no exception.Placing such a structure in an important and high profile green space a few yards from the main and historic river crossing would be exceptionally crass.Even if the folk festival could co-exist with a skate park, it probably would not want to. The Island Park is the hub of the FolkFestival and one of its major attractions; for many people it is the vital green space within this beautiful market town which canbe quietly enjoyed as part of the festival ambience.There is apparently a questionnaire in circulation asking for approval of the site but not giving the full information on which the citizens of Chippenham can make a judgement. Without giving the full facts and possible implications the result of the questionnaire is likely to be misleading. Those who want a skate park regardless of the location will certainly vote ‘Yes’; those who don’t have the full facts will be unlikely to vote.

Please contact the festival organisers for further information about the festival and it’s position regarding the Skatepark proposals by email info@chippfolk.co.uk or telephone 01249 657190 or 07526444784

1 comment:

  1. Why are they going to ruin the only nice park in the whole of Chippenham with a concrete skate park? I sometimes only go into Chippenham for a picnic there with food from the local shops, or take my children to feed the ducks. Families love going to feed the ducks. There's a whole field next to the gym that nobody uses on the other side of the river, but they would rather rip up the only nice place families can picnic, or for the craft stalls and shows to go for the Folk Festival. They're ripping up the heart of Chippenham.

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