A long-held ambition to boost facilities for young people at a play area from which two youths were banned in September for “serious anti-social behaviour” has been unanimously approved by councillors.
Deputy mayor of Malton councillor Lindsay Burr said while some residents had voiced concerns that introducing a pump track at Rainbow Lane in the town could attract further anti-social behaviour, she believed it would improve the issue.
That view was echoed by other members of North Yorkshire Council’s Thirsk and Malton planning committee.
The meeting heard pump tracks had become “the in thing” and the proposal in Malton was likely to be followed by a number of similar schemes put forward by town and parish councils.
Earlier this year North Yorkshire Police issued an appeal following a spate of criminal damage and anti-social behaviour in Malton Cemetery, Norton Skate park and various plants and planters cared for by volunteers, branding the offences as “mindless vandalism”.
The meeting at the former Ryedale District Council base in Malton was told the track was designed to be used by roller blades and non-motorised scooters and would sit alongside repositioned adult gym equipment, a multi-use games area and children’s play equipment.
Councillors heard the asphalt track, which would span 37m by 30m, has attracted 11 letters objection, with some describing the scheme as “a waste of taxpayers’ money” with others claiming a similar facility in nearby Norton had attracted older children and had seen vandalism, damage, littering, noise and antisocial behaviour.
‘A fantastic facility’
Speaking on behalf of Malton Town Council, Councillor Lindsay Burr said she was “delighted” the proposal had come forward, after “a long long time in the making”, working with residents, North Yorkshire Police and council officers.
She said the town council had consulted extensively with residents and had selected the site as for the pump track as it was surrounded by houses and to target it specifically towards rollerblades and non-motorised scooters, to complement the skate park in Norton.
The meeting was told the existing playground had been on the site since the 1960s and was “ready for a refresh”.
Cllr Burr said: “This is something to try to enhance what we’ve got in Malton, but also to try and help with the health and wellbeing and to possibly eradicate some of the antisocial behaviour some of our small towns are noticing at the moment. We have worked hard with the police and they are in support.
“We feel although we have had a tiny number of objections it is the best place to attract the young people, mums, dads, grandparents, anyone who wishes to use the site. We feel it is easily accessible, near the schools and near to where lots of families live.
“It is going to be a fantastic facility for Malton and Norton and surrounding villages to use.”
Members of the committee agreed the pump track would prove “a positive impact on young people”.
Councillor Malcolm Taylor told the meeting as a former North Yorkshire community police sergeant he believed “diversionary” schemes for youths were excellent.
He said: “I know there are a number of comments from objectors about anti-social behaviour. It is very easy to allege, and what defines anti-social behaviour?
“We can’t complain about our children being anti-social if they’ve got nowhere to go and nowhere to engage them.”