More than 20 years of patience and perseverance has finally paid off for Bellshill campaigners after a new skatepark opened in the town.
The new ‘St Andrew’s Wheeled Sports Facility’ was officially opened behind the Sir Matt Busby Sports Complex by Councillor Harry McGuigan on Friday.
In the early 1990s friends Jon McGee, William Brownlie and John Melrose began a campaign to see a dedicated skateboard park in their home town.
However, funding wasn’t available for a fully fledged facility so a mini-ramp was installed instead. The mini-ramp lasted only a couple of years and soon closed.
John said: “The mini-ramp was ok but it didn’t last long. It wasn’t made from concrete and so it was soon vandalised and the nails used to come up through the wood.”
Jon added: “The new facility has been a long time coming but it’s just brilliant that we finally have one.”
“We were all a lot younger then but we still plan to use the new park along with our children and show them how it’s done,” added William.
Two decades on and youngsters from Bellshill took up the campaign to have a dedicated wheeled sports facility built.
The youngsters, led by Corey Bell, organised fundraising activities and raised a petition, which they presented to North Lanarkshire Council.
Councillor McGuigan said: “It’s a real credit to the young people who campaigned so effectively to see this marvellous new facility opened today.
“It’s a perfect example of the council working with young people to provide them with the types of facility they want to see and I congratulate them on all their efforts.
“I would also like to thank the staff of North Lanarkshire Council and Culture NL who worked to deliver the project along with the contractors who have done such a good job building it.”
The council contributed £48,000 through Local Development Programme and this was backed by a Commonwealth Games Legacy Fund grant of £46,000 from sportscotland.
The park was designed and built by Freestyle Skateparks and Aqua Specialist Services along with local sub-contractors.
Councillor McGuigan was presented with a plaque from the Active Places Fund by new Sports and Health Improvement Minister Jamie Hepburn MSP.
Mr Hepburn said: “Part of the funding for this fantastic new facility came from the Commonwealth Games Legacy Fund, which aims to encourage physical activity throughout Scotland.
“Legacy 2014 is our chance to ensure that all of Scotland benefits from the Games and this new community facility is a wonderful example of that.”
Local regeneration manager Matt Costello said: “This is a great example of community consultation. We used online feedback surveys to determine the location and potential users were asked for their views which were incorporated into the final design.”