A Brixton chef with a love for skateboarding is campaigning for an iconic skatepark in Hammersmith and Fulham.
Fraser Adams, 20, who lives in Brixton and works at Café Plum in Fulham, started a petition in February which more than 350 people have signed.
He said the park will be a huge benefit to the community, and that the council is supportive but reluctant to pursue his idea wholeheartedly.
Mr Adams said: “They say yes to my ideas but then say no to all my proposed sites for reasons I personally don’t think are good enough.”
He said he thinks it’s about the council not understanding the full potential of a skatepark for the community, fewer young people in the borough, a lack of space and a shortage of funds.
“But I still think they are able to work with all of that and I’m very confident in being able to achieve something positive here,” he said.
Mr Adams said skateboarding had a positive impact on his friends who were bullied at school or struggled to fit in, and it taught him to never give up.
He said: “Nothing really beats that feeling of success off your own back. It’s a good mentality to take into life – to not let something get the better of you.”
Mr Adams wants to build an iconic multi-use community space that catches the eye and puts Hammersmith and Fulham on the map for young people.
In the face of negative stereotypes about skateboarding, he believes skateparks actually reduce crime and drug use where they are built.
He has noticed skateboarding’s rise in popularity in the last few years: more women and girls are taking it up and it is now an Olympic sport.
Fulham’s Bishops Park is home to a small skatepark, which Mr Adams said is better than nothing but is too basic and nowhere near sufficient for the demand.
“There are a few design flaws which make it harder to skate. The bowl fills up with water if the Thames is too high,” he said.
London has many public skateparks including one at Southbank Centre in use since 1973.
The Long Live Southbank campaign saved it from redevelopment in 2014 and began fundraising in 2017 to restore sections closed off since 2004.
Ealing’s second skatepark opened before Christmas 2018 in Acton Park.
The council worked on it closely with Ealing Skatepark Association (ESA) after the success of the borough’s first skatepark next to Gurnell Leisure Centre.
Both skateparks are in high profile, visible areas to encourage integration with the community.
An ESA spokesperson said: “I don’t think there are many public spaces where you get such a diverse mix of people sharing an interest. I can’t think of a parallel to be honest.”
Mr Adams set up Hammersmith and Fulham Skatepark Association to formalise his campaign.
A Hammersmith and Fulham Council spokesperson said: “We’ve been working very closely with Fraser on his project and are delighted that we’ve agreed to make some improvements to the skate bowl in Bishops Park, including extending it and adding a new grind rail.
“We are limited in what we can do in many of our parks, due to them being in conservation areas, their historic nature, high volume of use, or simply not having the space, so we’ll continue to work with Fraser on ideas for other venues.”
To add to the signatures already collected online, Mr Adams has more than 100 handwritten signatures.
Visit change.org to add your name to the petition.
Feature image credit: Theo Simondetti.
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