Norfolk

Norwich city centre skateboard ban plan ditched

Skateboarders' protest
Image caption Petition organiser Sam Avery said skateboarders gathered to protest against changes outside City Hall

A city centre skateboarding ban has been dropped, days after a councillor mistakenly sent an email to skaters calling their views "tosh".

Norwich City Council officers first recommended a by-law banning skating.

Instead, a consultation on new powers aimed at stopping anti-social behaviour by issuing £100 fines was backed by councillors

Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO) could be used to prevent skateboarders using the war memorial and gardens.

Officers had recommended a ban to prevent "nuisance to members of the public" and "damage to the historic buildings", including the war memorial.

But the council revised its proposal and said the new orders, introduced last month after a public consultation closed, allowed a "different approach to be explored".

It now also wants skateboarders themselves to resolve "inconsiderate activity" across other areas of the city centre.

Image copyright Norwich City Council
Image caption The original proposed ban covered the paved areas around City Hall, the Forum and the market

The move comes after Labour city councillor Mike Sands mistakenly sent an email intended for council leader Brenda Arthur to The Long Live Southbank skateboarding group.

He was responding to a letter in which the skaters said "public opinion" was "clearly opposed to the ban" and councillors were "ridiculing us".

He wrote: "Read the letter... What tosh! As advised no response."

'Cannot defend yourself'

A petition signed by more than 6,600 people opposing the by-law was delivered to the full council meeting by organiser Sam Avery.

He said about 200 skateboarders protested outside City Hall and was "disappointed" about the possible introduction of PSPOs.

He said the orders could simply be a ban under a different name.

"They are so new and there are concerns that they can expand the areas quite easily once it is in place," he said.

"The other concern is that you cannot defend yourself if someone issues you a fine.

"Also, these things can be handed out by all types of people - council officers, PCSOs."

The consultation will take about 12 weeks but it is not yet known when it will begin.

A council spokeswoman said the authority was "waiting on more guidance from government".

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