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A Norwich skateboarderLee Kirby

Norwich is trying to turn skateboarding into a crime

Norwich City Council wants to ban skating entirely in areas of the city

UK skaters are facing another battle to keep the scene above board, this time not in London but in Norwich. Members of the city council are seeking to ban skateboarding in parts of the city after damage caused to the War Memorial Gardens, a Grade II-listed monument.

They allege that the wear and tear was primarily down to skaters. But when people from the local scene protested that the damage could have been caused by rollerblades or scooters, the council just lumped those in with the proposed ban too.

So far, almost 4,000 people have signed a petition calling for the proposed ban to be scrapped. Residents polled by a local newspaper also voted hugely in favour of keeping skateboarding in the city centre. Long Live Southbank, the group behind the campaign to preserve the area underneath the Southbank centre in London, have sent a carefully worded open letter to Norwich City Council.

The organisation pointedly and correctly explained: "Skateboarding supports more than just the physical act, it supports other creative practices such as filmmakers, photographers, visual designers and provides opportunities for other transferable skills and values. It promotes physical and social well-being and a much-needed alternative to gadgetry as it encourages young people to get outdoors, get physical, and explore their cities and local areas."

"Add to that that skateboarding is one of the fastest-growing physical activities in the world, particularly with girls and young women, and there is enough reason to suggest local authorities encourage these physical expressions as opposed to discourage and, as in this instance, criminalise them."

The skaters are all in agreement that the war memorials should be left alone, but the ban would cover a much larger area of the city centre than that. Campaigners believe the move needless demonises of the local skate scene. 

Sam Avery, owner of the Norwich skate shop Drug Store, believes that the council appear to have made their minds up a long time ago and will press through with the ban regardless. He told us that the council isn't telling the whole truth as to why they're pushing for the ban.

"Someone made the comment on Facebook the other day that they should just build a small foot-high chain fence around the memorial – that would be the simplest solution," Avery says. "The other areas that they're trying to ban skaters from have as much to do with skating as my radiator does," he says. "The more I think about it the more I think it has nothing to do with the memorial, but if you say 'kids are smashing up this thing that's there to honour the dead', people are going to go mental." 

The war memorial is situated close to the City Hall offices. Avery thinks that the local council wants to implement the ban because it finds the noise made by skaters irritating to those who work in the building until 5.30pm. 

"I don't think anybody from the offices has ever gone out and had a reasonable conversation with them like normal human beings," he says.

If you want to help the Norwich skaters, sign this petition