Eastbourne’s indoor skate park Westskates has closed its doors.
The facility on The Britland Estate in Northbourne Road shut on December 30, after business owners Peter and Jan Westlake were unable to afford to run it.
Sian Hutchinson, whose son Dante uses the centre, says it was a very sad day and a great loss to the young scooter and BMX riders.
She told the Gazette, “My son rides at a professional level all over the world but sadly he and others will have no where local to train now Westskates indoor park has closed.
“The sad thing is these talented young people, who are not as lucky as Dante to travel all over the country riding indoor parks, will be forced to ride on outside parks, where in winter months are very dangerous due to slippery surfaces and high winds.
“This will cause more riders to take to the streets to practice tricks which then provokes unwanted attention and anger from locals who feel threatened by young people refining their skills .”
Sian explained she visits many charity-funded indoor skateparks across the country and thinks something should have been done to try and save Westskates from closure.
She said, “Westskates provided a safe environment for young people and I am absolutely gutted for the town’s young people.”
She added, “I am saddened that as a community we have not worked together to save this fantastic park.”
Jan Westlake told the Gazette she and her husband Peter had run the park for three years but were unable to keep it going.
She said, “It was really popular when we first opened but it is the same as everything else – It is a business and we can’t afford to keep it going.
“The council has opened two new skate parks in the town which killed things for us in the summer.
“The rates are very high and we just can’t continue.
“Our regulars want to start a petition and campaign to keep it open which is very nice, but we are a private business and unless they can find £100,000 each year, we can’t stay open.”
The couple said they were preparing to clear the premises and said they were ‘devastated’ they had to shut.
Sian said December 30 was a sad day.
“I watched a six-year-old boy from Brighton cry his eyes out as he said his last goodbyes to a park and riders who inspired him,” she said.
Sian believes Eastbourne is a hotspot for extreme sports but feels the closure of the facility leaves a ‘massive hole’ for the skating community.
She believes that BMX, scooters, roller blades and skateboards are a great way of promoting a fit and healthy lifestyle among youngsters.
Sian, her son and many others who used Westskates are still hoping that people will come together and raise funds for an indoor skate park for the town.