Aspiring Olympian slams plans to close town’s indoor skate park

An aspiring Olympian who trains at Lynn’s skate park has slammed early plans to redevelop the facilities.

A West Norfolk Council consultation into the possible revamp of Lynn’s Kaset skate park opened yesterday, with new activities being touted for the indoor area.

Bosses at Lynnsport say this is because it is underused – with, on average, around three visits per hour.

Aspiring Olympian skateboarder Joe Hinson has called for the indoor Kaset skate park to remain open
Aspiring Olympian skateboarder Joe Hinson has called for the indoor Kaset skate park to remain open

However, Joe Hinson, 27, a three-time UK street-skating champion, believes now is the wrong time to be thinking of scaling back the sport’s availability in West Norfolk.

He is currently in Rome for an Olympic qualifier, hoping to make an appearance at the 2024 Paris games, and says that skateboarding is one of the fastest-growing sports for children.

But having grown up practicing at Kaset, he has highlighted its importance to young people.

Aspiring Olympian skateboarder Joe Hinson has called for the indoor Kaset skate park to remain open
Aspiring Olympian skateboarder Joe Hinson has called for the indoor Kaset skate park to remain open

“Over the winter, there’s very limited options around that area that’s affordable. It’s cheaper and in walking distance from the train station, which makes it ideal,” he told the Lynn News.

“There’s a lot of anti-social behaviour around Lynn, and closing an indoor skate park to replace it with an outdoor skate park means there’s not going to be a safe space to go and skate.

“Right now, if you go to Lynn, people that are in Kaset are there to use Kaset properly. But when you go to an outside skate park, the people there aren’t always necessarily there to use the facility – they are there just to hang out.

“That’s not an ideal situation when you just want to be there and skate, and you’ve got people doing stuff they shouldn’t be doing.”

A borough council spokesperson said that all outdoor areas at Lynnsport are covered by CCTV, and that there are “well-established systems and processes in place” to deal with anti-social behaviour when it arises.

They added that “significant investment” was made at the skate park in 2017, but that it has had “minimal impact “ – with data indicating little growth in use.

They added: “Additionally, the existing facility is not competition standard. The outdoor facility being proposed would meet competition standards, meaning it would be better able to support keen users interested in training to a competitive level.

“The proposed new skate park will be free to use, which will remove a significant barrier for many and hopefully help support a growth in participation.”

But Mr Hinson is unconvinced, and feels that a lack of campaigning for new members has contributed to a lack of visitors.

He grew up and lives in Witcham, just outside Ely in Cambridgehsire, and says the nearest indoor parks to skate at are in Corby and Nottingham.

“I cannot remember one time that skateboard lessons have been advertised. I have offered my help, but they’re not interested,” he said of Lynnsport.

“Usage is low because they don’t do anything with it. It’s a building that could be used for music events, it’s a building that could be used for BMX, skooter and skateboard events.

“I think Lynnsport really need to reconsider closing it. It’s almost like they want the skate park to fail. That’s how it comes across to us, because they’ve done very little to advertise or very little to promote skateboard lessons.

“You go to Kaset, you’re there for a reason. The people that work there are great – they used to help me out as a kid. There’s positive role models there.

“I just feel like if they lose Kaset, they’re going to lose a community for young people. With skateboarding being an Olympic sport, we should be investing in it – not closng facilities.”

Councillors believe the current indoor equipment is “old and tired”, and are gathering opinions on plans to replace it with either a Tag Active Arena – with space split into zones with obstacle courses – X Height, a clip-and-climb activity, Aerial Assault – a boulder wall, and Cyber Towers, which have an element of tag-active technology.

The consultation will close on July 3, with two drop-in sessions taking place at Lynnsport on June 22 and 29 from 5-7pm.

The council spokesperson added: “We are proposing to rebuild the facility outside and build it to a better standard, and the proposals for the building include family-oriented activities.

“We believe this will be good for both the skateboarding community and the residents of the local area.”