A SOLUTION to the thorny issue of skateboarders gathering in St Helens town centre could be to create a purpose-built venue for youngsters next to a proposed new fire station.
Legislation has been suggested to ban skateboarders after police submitted a dossier of evidence in which they said that the activity should be restricted, most notably in Church Square.
However, speaking before the Safer Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel, Rod Jones, the safer communities manager, said: “We received a report from the police in 2013 saying they had been experiencing difficulties with a particular group of skateboarders and self-propelled scooters in the town centre.”
A consultation was undertaken involving youngsters who use the area to skate.
Mr Jones added: “Just under 40 per cent of people who took part visited the town centre to skateboard.
“Others came here for other reasons, either to watch or meet up with friends.”
The results of the consultation will now go before chief council officers, and will be considered along with evidence in support of the police’s application.
Mr Jones said the officers must also take on board the views of ward councillors and members of the business community as well as young people, but he could not give a time scale as to when this process would be completed.
An intriguing solution was proposed by St Helens fire chief Chris Case, who was present at the meeting.
He suggested that if fire authority plans to merge two fire stations in the town centre are given the go-ahead a potential solution may be to build a new skateboard park next door.
Mr Case said: “The town centre location could be a potential place. There was a similar issue to this in Birkenhead when they put skateboarders alongside the new fire station.”
Rainhill councillor Stephen Glover said many of the youngsters go to Church Square because they “feel safe”.
“Let’s not tar everyone with the same brush,” he said.
“We do need a facility for them, not just for skateboarders but others as well.
“I wish I had a couple of million pounds so we could do something about it.”