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Youngsters help give BMX dirt ramps a new lease of life

A tired and underused area of BMX dirt ramps is getting a new lease of life thanks to help from youngsters living in Newtown.

The old BMX area at Haskell’s Recreation Ground was detached from the main recreational space which boasts a well-used football pitch and play area.
Youngster trying out new BMX dirt ramps
Following consultation with local residents, including many young users of the area in May 2014, the BMX section is now being re-landscaped to make it more inviting to all park users.

Initial works have included the removal of fences and the thinning of the woodland to allow better views of the BMX dirt ramps and surrounding areas. In addition the existing BMX ramps needed attention as they had become overgrown and were unsuitable for use to all but the most daring of riders. There are also plans for new steps and a gravel path to be installed.

Approximately 30 young people came forward after last year’s public consultation, wanting to get involved with saving and improving this space. In January this year, they took part in a council-led ‘design day’ where the views of all users were listened to and plans were made.

These plans started to turn into reality on Thursday 19 February, when the young people worked with council officers and contractors to re-shape the soil mounds and create a much improved layout of ramps and jumps. Wheelbarrows, spades and shovels were wielded by the young people in tandem with the excavators and dumper trucks shifting large loads of top soil. They even had the opportunity to test the new ramps and jumps as the works were taking place.

Local resident, Joe Dowty, aged 13, said: “Once you put your back into the work that you wanted to accomplish, it was amazing to see what can be achieved. The end result is really rewarding.”

Councillor Xena Dion, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Parks and Open Spaces, Borough of Poole, said: “It is great to see the local residents playing such a huge part in breathing new life into an important area of their community. It’s heart warming to know there are so many enthusiastic young people out there who want to make a difference to the area in which they live, not only by shaping the area but taking responsibility for it too. They are a credit to their generation and they should feel really proud of their achievements.”

Councillor Brian Clements, Ward Member for Newtown, said: “It was a delight to be there for the design day when many young people and quite a few parents, some of them being experienced BMXers themselves, worked together to come up with a design that works for them and for the council.
 
"With the young people taking ‘ownership’ of this space, it is hoped that it will be well respected and looked after in to the future. The new layout also makes it easier for the council to maintain the verges and banks."

The new gravel path and steps will be constructed in the spring together with further improvements around Haskell’s Recreation Ground and the other open spaces in Newtown.

The BMX works, with a budget of approximately £10,000, are being funded by developer contributions and are part of a wider scheme to improve the open spaces and play areas in Newtown.