Deputy PCC Helps Get Skate Park Rolling

At 12:30pm on Saturday May 9th, Gwent's Deputy PCC, Paul Harris, will join the community and members of the Monmouth Off Street Project to mark the official opening of the brand new outdoor skate park at Rockfield Road Recreation Ground.

During the day which promises to be jam packed with entertainment, the community will be treated to a spectacle of tricks and performances from professional skateboarders. The company who designed and built the park, Wheelscape, will also be hosting a skateboarding competition for local children and young people.

The Monmouth Off Street project sprang into life five years ago as a result of local Police receiving a high volume of calls complaining about young people on BMX bikes and skateboards being noisy outside the homes of local residents and businesses.

In March 2010, in response to those complaints, Gwent Police CSO, Joe Facchiano, and local Police Sergeant, Mike Gray, called a community meeting. Around 60 people turned up and the idea of building a safe and accessible skate park for young people to keep them off the streets sprang into action. The Monmouth Off Street project was established as a direct result and work began on raising the £180,000 needed to bring the project to fruition.

The project was awarded a grant of £700 from Gwent PCC Ian Johnston's Partnership Fund in 2013 to help them along with their fundraising activities. The Commissioner's Partnership Fund awards cash seized from criminals and from the sale of unclaimed found property to groups involved in activities that have a positive impact on their communities. The money was used as the bedrock to pay for developing and submitting the project plans and for organising fundraising events and publicity materials to raise awareness of their work.

To secure the funding, the Monmouth Off Street project had to demonstrate how their project contributed to delivering Mr Johnston's priorities for Gwent which include preventing and reducing crime; taking more effective action to tackle anti-social behaviour and protecting people from serious harm.

After five years of tireless planning and fundraising, the new park is ready for its official unveiling. The facility has been designed for scooter users, inline skaters and is open seven days a week during daylight hours. As part of the project, construction work on a new park for BMX riders next to the park is also underway.

One member of the community who was invited to the original meeting with the Police back in 2010 was Shirley Hughes. She worked as a Community Development Officer for Monmouthshire County Council at the time and is now the Company Secretary for the Monmouth Off Street project.

"I'm delighted to see this open after so many years," says Shirley.

"Our children and young people deserve a space to be together to socialise, engage and practice their interests. It has only been in use for just over a month but over one hundred young people were using the park at one time during a recent weekend. This shows just how popular it is. The project has definitely met the Commissioners' priorities where tackling anti-social behaviour is concerned. This isn't something that has just been given to young people. They designed it and helped in the fundraising so they have ownership and respect for it."

Shirley added: "It's brought the community together because along with the Police and Crime Commissioner, so many other partners have been involved including the Army, the Police, the Council, Rotary Club of Monmouth and local businesses such as Waitrose. Monmouth lacked adequate provision for too long but this project has demonstrated what can be achieved when partners in the community work together."

Looking forward to the launch, the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Paul Harris, said: "We know that anti-social behaviour and youths hanging around on the streets are an area of concern for many of our residents. By supporting projects such as this one we hope to tackle those concerns and help towards reducing low-level criminality and anti-social behaviour by providing a safe and fun place where young people can go. This is why the commissioner awarded the support funding to this project."