Portishead’s 15-year campaign to Get a Wheels Park

The residents of Portishead have been fighting for a Skate Park for over 15 years.   Here’s a photo of kids supporting a skate park 2007!

The original skate park team had negotiated an agreement and planning permission for a park in the Lake Grounds a decade ago. They had raised money and produced a design with planning permission. At the last minute in 2010, the project was cancelled due to political interference when the Landlords Consent which was fundamental to the project and considered approved by PSP was surprisingly refused. The old Portishead Skate Park group was disbanded, and the funds which were left in the PSP account at that time, were passed to the Nailsea Skate Park Group.

However, demand and enthusiasm for a park remained. Following the 2015 General Elections, the Conservative District and Town Councils were still not willing to create a Wheels Park.  Residents were very disappointed with this reaction and forced the Town Council to hold a Parish Poll in 2016 at a cost of £8000.00.  

The poll showed continued support for a park; 89% of those who voted, voted in favour of a Wheels Park.  

Hundreds of kids came out to protest!  

Portishead kids leave no doubt about their enthusiasm for a skate park (17 May 2017). The Folk Hall was jammed with skatepark supporters and young people sending a very strong message to councillors: ‘The town needs a skatepark’.

Despite the results of the Parish Poll, the Town Council were still not willing to get a Wheels Park built for the youth of the Town. They did advise that, if the public wanted a Wheels Park, then we should create a group and come up with suggestions on venue and would assist in funding the initial costs to get things underway.

A public meeting was held and it was unanimously agreed that we would create the ‘Portishead WASP Group’.  We also looked at what type of group we wanted to be, a Community Interest Committee, Charity Group or Community & Amateur Sports Club and agreed that forming a Community Interest Committee (C.I.C) Group was the best option.

The supporters created WASP (Wheels And Skate Park.) to provide a facility for skate boarders and scooter riders. WASP was formed as a Community Interest Committee (CIC) group and registered with Companies House.  The group has notified HMRC and opened a bank account.

Following the elections in May 2019, the WASP team felt we had an opportunity to re-engage with NSC in a meaningful way.  We met with representatives of NSC in June to discuss how we could work together to get a permanent wheels park in Portishead. 

One of the most difficult tasks has been selecting a site for the wheels park.  Among other factors, the ideal site would be close to town, would be unobtrusive, have sufficiently large footprint, best in class design, aesthetically pleasing and very visible for safety considerations. Going back to the drawing board, WASP looked at various sites including areas not previously considered.  

To test the level of interest in a wheels park, North Somerset Council (NSC) agreed that WASP could run three pop-up wheels park events at potential sites. The events would show the public what a wheels park was and how kids of all ages would use it.  The locations were Parish Wharf, Vale Park and the Lake Grounds to see if there was still a will in the town for a permanent facility.

In excess of 500 people attended all three events and a total of 438 surveys were completed. For those that couldn’t attend a pop-up skate event, an ‘open house’ morning was held in September for people to come along, meet team members, give their opinions and fill in a questionnaire on all sites discussed, past and present.

The preferred location was overwhelmingly the Lake Grounds. 

After the success of these events, WASP applied for Landlords Consent for a minimum 25-year lease. 

WASP engaged with, and had very positive help and support from, our 2019 town councillors. Everyone one of them fully supported the project.  And, for the first time ever, our district councillors fully supported a permanent wheels park for Portishead.

WASP also agreed to continue outreach and consultation to keep the public informed and provide further factual evidence on the need for this facility.

So, now to the future: we must deliver the wheels park! 

A formal committee has been established with a structure of volunteers to execute the work.