Has the Elephant become the new place to skateboard.
This weekend I sat down on one of the new concrete benches at the elephant and castle new square. Some skateboarders come along and say move because they are using the benches for practice. Of course I refused. Being a big guy they backed off but still were they very abusive, swearing and trying to intimidate me. I again saw this happening to someone else on Monday by a different group of boarder. I must say the concrete benches have been badly marked and chipped. The same is happening at St Marys Courtyard. Its a shame because the area has suffered so long with neglect and its already beginning to look tatty again.
Many items of "street furniture" are now installed with little metal knobs etc to interrupt the surface which the skateboarders want to use. It would seem surprising that this risk wasn't anticipated when these items were fitted... Wonder if we can get from the council or design team anyone to comment?
I wrote to the local councillors on the matter a few weeks ago this was the response:
As the relevant Southwark Councillor responsible for Communities and Safety, your email of 5th June regarding the above has been forwarded to me for reply.
When concerns were first raised with the council about this matter, a decision was taken to increase Police and Warden patrols of the area. It is reported to me that as a result of this action, there has been a decline of skateboarding concerns however, there are still a few that are using the space for this activity.
On the 16th May 2016 the Council chaired a meeting with colleagues from the Wardens service, Police and Transport for London and actions have been set.
• TFL (it is happening on land which they are responsible for the upkeep of) are reviewing the seating and other furniture and making modifications to the furniture in general. This will include designing out the advantages of skate boarding on the furniture which it is hoped will further reduce or stop the attraction to the area.
• The local authority and Police will continue with increased patrols and where necessary educate those who are using the area for possible anti social activities. The Police are also arranging joint days of patrols in order that we can identify those persons involved and from these days, we will be seeking whether there is action that can be jointly taken to prohibit this and other behaviours.
• With the Michael Faraday statue, there was indeed graffiti tags marked on the statue and these have been cleaned by London Underground who manage the structure. Photo’s of the tags were taken and passed to Police in case they can be used in any further investigations.
Thank you, Manson34, for taking up this matter (which I'd meant to). I talked to a couple of skateboarders a week or two ago, pointing out the damage that they'd done to the new benches etc. and asking why they were skateboardng. He replied that this was public space for everyone and he was free to do whatever he wanted with it. It was a fairly fruitless conversation but the other guy did say "sorry". Like the the kids who jump into my front garden and damage plants, there's always one who feel entitled and another who apologizes! Perhaps this reflects society generally. Anyway, floods have abated and the sun is shining so hey ho.
When they redo St Marys Churchyard ( and let's hope Southwark don't pay again through the nose for top London architects to stick large concrete balls in a park ) maybe they could devote a section of it to this activity.
Or, with the way the bend turns into a lake when it's been raining maybe they can all take up windsurfing.
Skateboarding is a fact of life. It's rather good to see kids getting some exercise & practising a skill.
Personally I love watching them.
It should not be beyond the wit of highly-paid 'urban designers' or whatever they call themselves, to accommodate different users of a common space.