Forres Skate Park Initiative calls for another full meeting of Moray Council to consider preferred site at Grant Park rather than wait for outcome of education estate review
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A GROUP campaigning for a skate park in Forres is calling for Moray Council to give the community what it wants now - instead of waiting for a new school to be built.
Forres Skate Park Initiative (FSPI) is requesting that the local authority fully reviews evidence the group submitted ahead of a full meeting of the council on September 27.
FSPI is also demanding an explanation for the council not granting a Community Asset Transfer (CAT) of their preferred site at Grant Park.
The council instead agreed at the meeting to wait for the outcome of a learning estate review with a view to the skate park being built alongside a new secondary school.
FSPI development officer Shaun Moat expressed concern that information issued to councillors on September 27 did not accurately reflect the group’s CAT application.
He said: “We would welcome another meeting of Moray Council to properly consider the CAT and our supporting documentation. A decision to delay, based on a misinformed report and ‘other things going on in the town,’ is not acceptable.”
He added: “In preparing the CAT, FSPI spent years working with the council’s community support team, making several changes at their request prior to full submission.
“We were told that ours was one of the best CAT submissions the council has received so it was disappointing that our supporting documents were not provided prior to the meeting.”
Mr Moat argues that the decision to wait is based on a misinterpretation of the 1923 Declaration of Trust. Sir Alexander Grant left Grant Park to the Burgh to be used as a public park and recreation ground.
Council officials, however, seem to be arguing that a skate park would mean a change of use.
Mr Moat said: “FSPI are not seeking to change the area from recreational use. The provision of a free, all-wheeled sports facility would enhance the current recreational provision.”
Council officials also seem to be claiming that there was insufficient consultation about siting the skate park.
Mr Moat confirmed the CAT’s supporting documents show that public and stakeholder consultation events were shared via local media, online and on social media. Emails were also sent directly to all Grant Park user groups, organisations, and schools within the Forres Academy catchment area, as required by Moray Council. There were also over 1000 responses to FSPI’s consultations in favour of an all-wheeled sports facility at Grant Park.
Mr Moat said: “Instead the council papers focused on 48 unsolicited letters citing concerns we had not looked at alternative locations. It was stated by one of the elected members that public opinion for a skate park in Forres was 50/50.
“The evidence we have provided shows that public opinion is overwhelmingly in favour - the numbers speak for themselves!”
He added that another document not tabled to councillors at the meeting was an independent consultation process and feasibility study completed by Alan Jones Associates in 2021. Bogton Road, Roysvale and Mannachie Park were considered with a majority of respondents voting in favour of Grant Park.
Grant Park is FSPI’s preferred location partly due to existing facilities such as parking, toilets, a café and play equipment already in place.
“It provides a safe, open, accessible space, close to local businesses and on a main bus route,” added Mr Moat. “It is also a space that is currently unused for much of the year.
“An all-wheeled sports facility would attract visitors and provide a financial benefit to local businesses.
“As the only major town in Moray that does not have one, it’s about time that the community’s voice was heard and the young people of Forres provided with facilities they have been campaigning for for over 18 years.
“It is no longer acceptable to ignore the growing popularity of wheeled sports and the opportunities such a facility would bring.”
A Moray Council spokesperson explained that the full meeting of the council was “not asked to make a final determination of the request” from the FSPI.
She said: “It was asked to make a decision in principle and, if it wished to consider the proposal in detail, the recommendation was that it should first consult with park user groups and the wider Forres community on the detailed proposal.
“Para 3.6 of the report to full council states the findings of the previous FSPI consultation carried out in 2021 alongside the council’s response to the survey.”
She finished: “The decision taken was to explore options for the skate park when the land currently occupied by Forres Academy becomes available for multi-purpose use in the next few years.
“The agreement was to continue to support the FSPI to identify a suitable location, which this option could provide.”
Read the full report to council on the local authority’s website.
FSPI are asking supporters to visit www.forresskatepark.org.uk to fill in a supporters pop-up to show support for the development.