YOUNGSTERS are being urged to come up with new ideas to help support a popular skate park.
Every week dozens of youngsters hone their skills at the £400,000 Rossmere Skate Park, in Hartlepool.
But officers at Hartlepool Borough Council want the park to be more self-sustaining and had put forward plans to increase the annual membership fee from £1 to £10, which included a £1 concessionary rate.
The move – which had been supported by the majority of regular users – was to help cover the cost of swipe cards needed to access the site and future maintenance costs.
The plans were discussed at a meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council’s children’s services portfolio holder.
But Labour councillor Chris Simmons, portfolio holder for children’s services, decided against increasing the membership fee.
Instead, he asked officers to use around £4,000 of Early Intervention Grant funding to support the facility for a year and to encourage the management committee, which includes young skaters, to come up with ideas to make it self-sustaining.
That could include developing the equipment hire side of the skate park or the tuck shop.
Coun Simmons said: “I would like to give a year’s grace and the opportunity to the management committee to come up with some additional ideas to raise money.
“I really feel that if you ask young people to be entrepreneurial they can often come up with different ideas to what we would think of.
“That is a good way of them being involved.”
The skate park is next to Rossmere Youth Centre, in Rossmere Way.
Officially there are 400 members, with 75 young people from Hartlepool regularly using the facility, which is accessed via a swipe card.
He added: “I would propose that we keep the registration fee of a £1 for this year and to encourage the young people to develop the enterprise aspect of the facility.”
He said he was aware of the “tremendous amount” of family poverty in town and that if there was an opportunity to “lessen the burden” then it should be taken.
Beth Storey, youth work manager with Hartlepool Integrated Youth Support Service, said the 400-strong membership includes 60 youngsters from outside of Hartlepool.
Coun Simmons said he was keen for as many town youngsters to use it as possible.
He added: “This is a great facility and because it is a safe and managed facility it makes it even more attractive.”
Coun Simmons added: “I think it is reasonable to make a small charge, but I am concerned about the £10 figure.
“Say you have a family with three of four children that want to be part of it, then that will cost £40 per year for that family and add additional pressure.”
Labour councillor Ann Marshall, who represents the Rossmere ward, also spoke and said she was not happy with plans to increase the membership fee.