Monday, 22 February 2010

Paul Parsons talks Shoreham Park

Paul 'Jelly' Parsons is one of the main men behind the skatepark being built over in Shoreham. It's the hard work and hours put in by him and others behind the project that have got this amazing facility under way. I shot a few questions in his direction to give you an insight to what's been happening behind the scenes, and so you can read for yourselves why you should be excited for the place. Enjoy...

What is your position in this whole process? And who else is involved?
My official position is "Chair" of the steering/user group.
I have worked as the design interface between Jim Barnum President of Spectrum Skatepark Creations, the steering group and the council. (I have also turned into the pedantic researcher for the project!)
Dedicated members of the steering group are Steve Silver (Secretary) Mark Roberts, Paul Nolan, Marie Pomeroy, Dave Heffernan and Nathan Marshall. The group has dwindled over the years, understandably people lose faith when we have had to get through so many delays.

When did the very first moves towards getting a park in Shoreham happen?
A good while ago an ad was placed in the local council magazine to see if "Parents and Skateboarders" would be interested in a skateboard facility in Shoreham. First public meeting was held in September 2006! Us oldies sat at the back whilst the kids were asking for foam pits and micro ramps. The council asked for volunteers to work on fund-raising applications and paperwork, so a few of us stepped forward. Around a year later the initial committee was nominated.

Give us a quick run through of what's happened since then to get us to where we are now.
Agghhh noooo!.... here is a quick skim through....2006,The first year we progressed at a good rate, well attended meetings, 2007, £120k of Big Lottery money came in, met with different park builders, travelled the country measuring/studying concrete shapes. Tenders/designs came in and one stood out from the bunch. Group meeting choose to go with Spectrum because of experience and the £ to $ was very good then. We soon realised more cash would be needed.
An application to Viridor credits raised our pot with another £30K as the group wanted both a bowl and a street section.

We started from scratch on the designs and came up with the street plan pretty much as it stands today but the bowl was massive! Early 2008 we had delays/problems with the position of underground sewers on site. Design was tweaked and needed extra foundations/ reinforcing. Estimated cost came in £60k over budget!!

April 2008, with the limitation of time and funds we needed a quick solution. The first response was to scale the design down. This worked fine with the street area but the bowl was mutilated. We threw out the bowl design (gutted!) and frantically came up with a smaller (better) shape. The skatepark direction changed here a little as we removed the 4ft deep section of the bowl. The council supported our view on having a progressive abilities bowl. Meanwhile a UK main contractor won the tender to bring over the Canadian construction crew. A series of technicalities on materials and logistics caused some delays. Visa applications were applied for - then a bombshell hit us! The project was suspended due to a legal query about building on the Ham rec, even though we already had planning permission. The council sorted the problem but time had moved on and Spectrum crew were then busy else where. Xmas passed, into 2009, then we had the news that the Canadians' Visa applications were turned down, with no explanation! At this point the project had pretty much fallen to the ground. Happy New Year!

Feb 2009, we received a further £10,000 Community Aid Grant from Adur District Council.
We still had the Spectrum design and support but no one to build it. Adur council drafted in Worthing borough council's engineering department to oversee the construction and re-tendering. Tenders came in to build our design and the council chose Blakedown landscape operations as they were by far the cheapest! The steering group were concerned at the very low price but the council assured us that we would be getting a good deal. If we didn't go with Blakedown then we would have to raise another £50k for a different company to build the same design. Blakedown Landscapes started the construction in early August 2009. Since then the construction progress has been blogged on

What was the first scheduled opening date? What problems have you encountered that have caused the delays?
It was initially a 12 week contract with an opening date of 12th November, if everything went to plan. The council were very keen to have the skatepark open as soon as possible.
The design we have created was always expected to be built by the Canadians, the way that parks are built in Canada and the US. When the Canadian designs were converted to British Construction standards, the construction specification was also drawn up. Who ever won the tender had to build it using these methods. This is not the usual way that Blakedown and Duracrete work so it has increased their own expected labour time. There have been extra works added to the contract such as fencing and turfing, rubble removal and so on. Construction has now crept into the depths of winter and as you all know Xmas holidays and the harsh weather have added even more time.

This whole process seems very hands on and inclusive of you guys compared to many other parks. What's the difference between this and other council projects that have lead to some abominations in this country?
Possibly those abominations out there have been the fault of council ignorance. Many councils cannot get or even want user guidance. We have been very lucky to have Clive Bramble heading this project. As Adur's Parks manager, Clive has always been very keen for the skatepark to be successful. We always had answers to the council's questions, they soon realised the steering group was essential to getting it done right. We thoroughly researched and consulted other skatepark constructions and professionals around the world. All the information is out there, you just have to ask the right people.
In my opinion, UK skatepark companies would benefit from looking at successful park design in Europe and the West rather than doing their R&D with our building funds.

Jim Barnum's designs have an understanding of the physics of riding: sizing the transitions and the necessary spaces needed for an optimum ride. Design is one thing but what about construction? How many parks do you skate that are cracking up with poor drainage and decaying riding surfaces? Who ensures that skatepark builders specify and carry out the correct construction methods?

You've been keeping a close eye on the building of the park, making sure everything is up to scratch. What problems did you catch and rectify?
The construction is under the watchful eye of engineer Martyn Payne and Worthing Council's engineering department. If work doesn't meet up to specification then it gets corrected or it comes out! There is a specification that details every single part of the design. There are sensible tolerances, for example, if the coping is not quite level over a 3m length then that won't exactly kill the ride, but if the concrete sloped the wrong way and we end up with puddles on the back of the coping then that does not get accepted.  

Steve Silver, Martyn Payne and myself were on site with Duracrete for the concreting of the bowl. By working together, Duracrete could give us what we were aiming for. Andy Pearless from Fearless Ramps came in to advise on the forming of the hips and it made a huge difference to the shaping.

The tile stamp was a gamble and Duracrete were happy to give it a go. It's a first for any UK bowl and although there was no time to tweak it to make it perfect, we are pleased with the effect. Why did we include it? Because we could and it is a total buzz to ride. The sound and the feel = wow! This is the kind of thing that the council trusted the steering group with. We researched it and got experienced advice and went for it!

Martyn Payne, Clive Bramble, Paul Nolan and Steve Silver on site

While it boasts an excellent street course, the bowl seems to be the big deal in the park.
Street course? oh yeah, I believe there was some crete left over from the bowl? Thought it would give the scooters something to do ;0) Glad to hear you like the "Street ditch™", there is a lot more to it than meets the eye.........I reckon we could run a cool Death-race in there......
The bowl is mesmerising to look at. It is a totally inspiring shape. To quote Dave Hackett from the film Chlorine, "it is so old that it is new!" as in, it’s so simple that it looks advanced! There is nothing like it in the country: this is why people are getting excited about it. No tech, just solid basics.

Your involvement also won't end once it's open, you've said. How will you stay involved with the running of the place?
The project has an obligation to the Big Lottery to oversee the skatepark's management for the next three years. The "Committee" shall be retained and will work alongside the Council for future fund-raising, organising events and competitions. What ever ideas the users can come up with. There are plans for beginner and intermediate skateboard lessons. Possible extensions to the design. The council will run "Urban day" festivals for the youngsters. We will have to take it one step at the time but essentially we need the users to be involved and supportive of what they wish to see happening at their park. Shoreham skatepark will be totally supported by Adur Council.

What is there left to do? Dare I ask an estimated opening time?
At the moment there is roughly 4 weeks work outstanding before completion. With the weather being so unpredictable we can not plan when these 4 weeks will get done. Therefore, we have no completion date to give out. We all have to sit tight and think of the long hot summer that is to follow...

Will there be an opening day event?
The council are planning a formal opening ceremony. The committee are not arranging anything as it's so up in the air and we just wanna skate. We can all get together and discuss what we would like to happen for a spring "opening" event. We have been contacted by local skate stores and big skate companies all offering their support, so what ever happens, its gunna be rad!

Are you worried at the prospect of being overrun with 8 year olds on scooters?
Only when I skate the "Street ditch™" I just hope the Scooter rats will be old enough to read the signs ;0) I don't think people realise just how petite our skatepark is yet. I am sure it will always be busy. We have had a small budget but we have spent it well.

Who are you looking forward to seeing skate the place?
In the Bowl... Stu Graham, Pooch (JT), Chris Ault, Gay'Rom (Graham from the Rom), Jim Barnum, Jelly! All the little locals who'll balk the first time they look into the bowl, well they will be shredding it next year!
In the Street... Nathan Marshall, Liam Teague (£10, cheers) Manual Nick, Surfy longboarders.

What's in store for the future?
Anything can happen, lighting, events, a mini ramp, demos, free stickers, development of the surrounding park area?......Let's get skatin' first!

And of course anything you want to add / people to thank etc.
For me, this project has been very exciting and pretty stressful at times. It has taken hundreds of hours of our own free time; it has also cost us work time and wages and it has affected our jobs and private lives. People we have skated with doubted it would actually happen. Delays are a pain but we kept it going. Everyone we have worked with on the project will move on to the next project. For us, we just get to skate it next to you guys. Sorry there is no foam pit!

Loads of people I would personally like to thank:

Clive Bramble (Adur Council)
Martyn Payne (Worthing Engineers)
Jim Barnum (Spectrum)
Nigel Kersey (Geoform)
Steve Silver (C3PO)
The Steering Group zzzzzzz
Andy Pearless (Fearless Ramps)
Nick Smith (Sk8Goa)
Martin Ellis (Cruel Mistress fanzine)
OldManArmy Forum members
Tom Max (Wormhouldt Skateparks inc)
Meagre (Team Pain)
Dan Hughes (
Decent Hardware
The Rom pool
The Worldwideweb
And everyone who's brains I have picked over the last 3 years.
And thanks to you Liam for posing the questions.

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Tuesday, 16 February 2010


Never seen this before so thought I'd share it with those who also missed it, Made by Ginge in October 07

Sunday, 14 February 2010

R u Sponcered Lol

Congrats are in order to Will Greenfield who just got his first package full of DVS related stuff through Revival Distribution. Who knows where it could go?

Wednesday, 3 February 2010