Happy skateboarding birthday Beinn!

This is a picture that says it all. The lady on the left is Cllr Joanna Wright who – along with Cllr Rob Appleyard (far right) represent Bath’s Lambridge Ward – which includes the much-loved Alice Park.

Standing next to Rob is Joanna’s son Beinn and – if you are wondering why there are so many happy faces – it’s because Beinn is enjoying a rather special 18th birthday present he never thought he would get.

At the age of 9 his mother took him to a B&NES council meeting where he bravely addressed the grown ups and asked if he – and other children like him could – have a skateboard facility on their side of the city.

Young Beinn pointed out that – over the age of eight – there were very few places for young people to play.

Cutting the ribbon – watched by who – Joanna describes as ‘ local women residents – whose experience in life recognised the value of play for young people in their community that created greater community cohesion and they have supported the skate park process throughout.’

It’s taken ten years of campaigning by Joanna, Rob Appleyard and a group of local supporters to get the facility built but this week the fencing finally came down and Beinn, and other young people like him, could give those concrete ramps a try.

I had technical problems doing an interview with Joanna so, instead, will quote her answer to my question about how much of a battle getting the facility had been.

I might add that Joanna was dropped from her B&NES transport role during a recent cabinet reshuffle whilst working towards low traffic neighbourhoods and trying to persuade people to use other means of getting around to reduce the impact of cars on crowded and fume-filled streets.

Just like learning to ride a bike – l don’t think! Cllr Rob Appleyard giving Cllr Joanna Wright a bit of skateboard support.

Here’s what she had to say.

“This skateboard park has been a very good learning curve on how challenging it is to put any change into local spaces – whatever they may be – because there was a minority voice that didn’t want it and gave me reasons not to do it.

What l always knew was that, behind the scenes, there was an overwhelmingly majority that supported it, believed in it and thought it was the right thing to do and actively backed me. I think that now too about my (former) transport role.

There is/was a sizeable group of people who back it and want those networks to happen.

Transport in Bath and North East Somerset needs joined up networks across the geographical area to encourage walking and wheeling and help to reduce car dependency. Residents want to see better cycling infrastructure, reduction in the speed of cars and a greater consideration for those walking and cycling.

Actually, that is what political leadership is all about – delivering – and that is what people want to see done in their local spaces.”

Will she take a back seat now?

“I am a campaigner and there is always something to campaign about!’