BMX bikers and skaters restore vandalised skate park

BMX rider. Photo: Deana Georgas

BMX biker at Clissold Park skate park. Photo: Deana Georgas

Local skateboarders and BMX bikers restored Clissold Park’s skate park on Monday after vandals damaged the property.

The skate park, located in Stoke Newington, was vandalised on Sunday evening, marking the second incident of this nature in the past three weeks. In both cases, broken glass and empty alcohol bottles covered the skate pit, rendering it dangerous and unusable for the participants. Additionally, trash bins were thrown into the pit and set on fire causing the otherwise smooth concrete surface to crack and crumble in areas.

Hackney Council closed the skate park after the first incident of vandalism. However, it was the efforts of the local skate and BMX bike community that allowed it to reopen so quickly. Luke Alexander, a 16 year student who uses the skate park regularly said: “It was a huge mess, and it is the skaters and BMX [bikers] who are fixing it. We are the ones using it, so it makes sense to clean it.”

There were over a dozen skaters and bikers who formed the unofficial cleaning crew. For those involved in the clean up, removing the bins from the skate pit was the most difficult part of the process. Alexander recounted: “It took at least five people to remove the large bins, and three people to carry out the smaller ones.” He also described how the crew needed paint scrapers to eliminate the melted residue from the bottom of the pit.

Teacher Josh Beal. Photo: Deana Georgas

Teacher, Josh Beale after restoration completed. Photo: Deana Georgas

The effect of the vandalism on the local skateboard and biker community has been disruptive. Josh Beale, a 27-year-old teacher and BMX biker explained: “The [cracked concrete] affects the skaters more than the bikers, but we are all upset that it happened.”

Councillor Jonathan McShane, Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Culture in Hackney acknowledged the council’s difficulties in contributing to the restoration.  He said: “The cost of cleaning up and repairs following the vandalism has to be met by the council at a time of unprecedented pressure on our budgets.”

However, McShane added: “The Council is currently working closely with the police who are investigating the attacks.”

The council is now encouraging neighbours and residents to report any incidents of vandalism as a means of “preventing these mindless attacks” from occurring in the future. In the meantime, the skateboarders and bikers who use the skate park have resumed their regular activities in Clissold Park.

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