Letters found in Twyford Youth and Community Centre show that as early as 1997 young people were asking for more facilities for play and sport. Twyford Parish Council’s “Go Twyford” consultation agreed, showing few local provisions for the over 12s. Young people identified a leisure centre, skate park, hard court area and youth shelters as their most wanted facilities. From 1999 onwards young people gathered three petitions in favour of this facility.
Twyford Parish Council agreed to site it on King George’s Field if the costs of the installation could be found. Twyford Village Partnership, originally the snappily titled (!) “Twyford Village Centre Management Initiative” (TVCMI), came into being in November 2001. It immediately adopted the provision of a skate park as one of its initial projects. Steering Group Member, Elizabeth John, energised the project with information that it would be eligible for reclaimed landfill tax. Groundwork Thames Valley, a regeneration charity authorised to access the landfill tax, was commissioned to plan the scheme. This formed the initial funding base, along with Developers monies and a contribution from Wokingham Borough Council.
The active project dates from early in 2002. Youth Leaders Lee Middleton and Trudi Collis, TVCMI Steering Group Members, drove the project with their enthusiasm. Vigorous encouragement was provided by Wokingham Youth & Community Services.
In June 2004, Twyford Parish Council added the requirement for a ball court and it was requested that these two facilities be built together. Disappointment was experienced when some of the funds laid aside for the scheme were declared out of time and, for a while, plans had to be pared back. Also, there was much local opposition to the scheme on the basis of noise nuisance and spoiling the visual aspect of a public space. The design was sympathetically devised to minimise both these effects. Full planning consent was obtained in December 2005. The scheme was aimed at supporting skateboarders, in-line skaters, BMX bikers and the various ball games, all as unsupervised play.
Extra funds were identified via a successful application by Wokingham Borough Council to the Big Lottery Fund Children’s Play Programme, the Youth Opportunities Fund, which young people apply for themselves, and a generous grant from the Louis Baylis (Maidenhead Advertiser) Charitable Trust. These funds made it possible to revert to plans for the full scheme as originally envisaged. A setback was encountered when it was found that the site for the ball court was unstable owing to previous landfill. Remedying this ate into funds and we had to complete the scheme without the envisaged floodlighting and some other desirable features.
A fully functional facility was handed over to the care of Twyford Parish Council in July 2009. Skaters and bikers had the opportunity to plan the equipment they required in conjunction with manufacturers. This avoided the common mistake of installing ramps that are too big or challenging for the less skilled. This is often the reason for the neglect of skate parks. In spite of the difficulties in bringing this project to fruition, it proved to be an excellent facility for young people for recreation and enhancing their skills, without either having to pay a fee or to travel to other areas for anything comparable.
Tenacity was required to overcome obstacles. The project typifies what organisations like Twyford Together can achieve for the community. The skate park and ball court was a multi-agency project with efforts coordinated via our organisation. Funds were acquired from disparate sources showing the advantage of a community partnership operating in the village.
“My thanks are due to the young people of Twyford, the planners and all those who lent their strength to ensuring the project would succeed”.
Cedric C.Gilson – TT Chairman 2004