On the 25th November, Norwich City Council is set to vote on whether to implement a ban on skateboarding across numerous areas of the city.
Proponents of the ban argue that skateboarders, roller skaters and scooter-users are inflicting damage upon the war memorial and War Memorial Gardens outside City Hall.
The proposal has already passed through the council’s cabinet, despite cabinet member Keith Driver admitting that he couldn’t “see anything wrong with someone skating in front of City Hall and out the other side” just so long as they weren’t skating on the war memorial itself.
However, opponents argue that the proposed ban would in fact include City Hall and would cover Hay Hill, The Forum, St Peter Mancroft, Gaol Hill leading towards London Street, and the War Memorial Gardens.
Whilst Norwich City Council’s Labour cabinet has shown support for the creation of a by-law to ban the activities, opposition councillors have taken a very different stance.
James Wright, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, has stated that the by-law would not be proportionate, and Green Party councillor, Lucy Howard, has raised concerns over the “lack of public consultation”. Whilst she supported the need to “protect the war memorial & city hall, and to reduce risk and nuisance to residents”, she added that a “blanket ban across much of the city centre is unnecessary”.
Cabinet member Keith Driver made it known that a case report at City Hall would precede any court dates for those infringing upon the ban, and that initial warnings would be given to skateboarders before any further action was taken.
However, Lucy Howard viewed this “‘softly, softly’” approach as potentially leading to further “confusion for skateboarders and other residents alike”.
Opponents of the ban also point to Norwich’s currently held Healthy City status, arguing that skate-related activities are free, outdoor pursuits, which encourage both physical exercise and socialisation in a time where young people can potentially struggle with obesity and alienation.
Once the full council have reached a decision, the bylaw will have to be advertised for a month. The council would then need to apply to the Secretary of State for approval before the ban could be brought in.
A petition of nearly 5,000 signatures has already been gathered against the proposal, and can be found at the following website: you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-the-norwich-skateboard-ban