‘Skateboarding is not a crime’ is a dictum that has been around for generations now, but in a move that has angered many, councillors in Norwich are attempting to make it just that.
The city council are attempting to pass a bye-law that will completely ban skateboarding in large parts of the city after damage to the grade-II listed War Memorial Gardens was attributed to skaters.
While the opposing movement is in communal agreement that the war memorial should be left alone, there is much shock around the “unnecessary and heavy handed” punishment that the councillors are planning to roll out.
A petition started by Sam Avery, who owns local skate shop Drug Store, has now garnered almost 6,000 signatures, and raises the strong points that there are already laws in place to punish those defacing or damaging public property.
The petition reads: “Laws regarding damage to public property already exist and we believe singling out skateboarders for special treatment is an extremely negative way to approach a diverse group of mostly respectful, active and creative individuals.
“We also believe skateboarding is an activity that should be encouraged by the city council as a positive, healthy, sociable and green way for people from a wide range of social backgrounds and age groups, to enjoy themselves.
“Skateboarding is an activity that should be encouraged as a positive way for people to enjoy themselves”…
“We are in agreement that the war memorial should NOT be used by skateboarders and should be left as a place of respect and contemplation for those it represents, however we believe that a simple sign or even CCTV camera would suffice to discourage anyone who tries to misuse this area.”
It’s hard to argue with the points put forward on the petition, and despite regular letters and e-mails from the Long Live Southbank movement (LLSB), there has been limited coverage of the opposition and limited opportunity for negotiation with the council thus far.
The entire proceedings were made even more absurd this week when Cllr Mike Sands accidentally e-mailed a message regarding a recent letter from LLSB back to the skating activists, rather than to intended recipient Cllr Brenda Arthur.
In the e-mail, Sands referred to the letter from LLSB – which reminded the councillor that he was an elected representative of the people – as “tosh” and said that “as he was advised”, he did not reply.
He then proclaims that the real reason skaters ride street spots was for the “motivation to be seen”, and suggests that part of the reason he wants to stop street skating is that he once “had a very near collision outside city hall” with one of these rascals. Poor Mike.
I would say you that couldn’t make up such a farcical scenario, but the plotline seems to be something straight out of ‘The Thick Of It’, and as far as I know that popular BBC series was entirely fictional.
It does seem ridiculous though that such a rash ban could be passed when clearly there are so many other ways to deal with this issue, and so many people in opposition.
Our thoughts? Sign the petition and help bring the campaign to an even wider audience. After all, skateboarding is not a crime!