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Calder Holmes Park

From Les S

Monday, 6 September 2010

I know this is a perennial issue. However, It seems that Calder Holmes and the surrounding area don't seem to have become a nicer place to visit over the past couple of years. A few things seem becoming a bit concerning. Firstly the level of Graffiti, which seems to spill out to the locks on the canal. The litter becomes very problematic in the evening (Thanks to the council workers that do a Stirling job of cleaning in the mornings) And there still seems to be alot of drunk teenagers around. From morning to evening. Now I don't wish to sound to harsh but the only proposals I see for Calder Holmes are the extension of the Skate park, which in it self is great and could make a real attraction. However, It is attracting the same or similar group that dominate the park anyway. What else is been done to encourage the broader community?

I know several People that no longer go to the park favoring Tod park, Shibden or even Townley, especially with families, People are not as comfortable using Calder Vale.

I met a women recently at Stubbings wharf who has been navigating the canals of Britain for the last 28 years, she was moored at Stubbings because the previous night she was moored near the park and had endless bottles and insults hurled at her barge, this is the first time this has happened in her career on the canals and she was very surprised. Hebden benefits from holiday makers and tourists, we should not have people being frightened away.

Sorry rant over, and knowledge of what might be done to improve our central park would be nice to know, because we live in a lovely place.

From Ken Hall

Monday, 6 September 2010

I am a boat dweller who has moored alongside the park many times without a problem. Boats are a target to the mindless disaffected because they can be assaulted in lonely places and from safe distances. Indeed on some stretches of water one is advised not to stop or to travel alone.
Your piece can give a false impression of the park. How many people do you know that are happy to continue using it? Have you conducted a survey in the town square?

How do you stop vandalism? Easy. You give youth a say in the community. You operate youth clubs, you ensure there are jobs for all and free education. you actively recruit them into challenging but controlled activities and by giving them a say on local councils.

I am 67. I had the opportunity, ignored, of a free university education. I had a choice of youth clubs most nights of the week. Most importantly i knew there was a job waiting for me when I left the school gates. Mistakenly I chose the military but I have made lots mistakes in my time. Don't make people work till they are old and frail whilst depriving the young of job opportunities. That only makes sense if you are a moron

From Colin C

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Further to Les's post, I often travel through the park on my way home from work and over the summer have been struck by the almost surreal scene that usually greets me, particularly in nice weather.

Groups of teenagers hanging around the benches near the skate park, laying their booze out on the tables as if having a picnic, whilst openly smoking cannabis whilst only twenty feet away families with very young children play happily, and an occasional older residents walks past, taking in a bit of sun.

All three groups seem oblivious to each other. A metaphor for Hebden perhaps?

From Paul D

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Calder Holmes is the most visible example of what happens when local governance is inept, when liberal parents are allowed too much influence and when the public retreat from civic space.

Other than the excellent new play area (despite the paddling pool being full of now rancid sand) Calderdale, through a combination of staffing cuts and reallocation of their maintenance teams, have left the park mostly unsupervised. At the same time as they retreated, a small group of parents lobbied for a skate park and then lobbied for a graffiti wall, providing a cloak of community involvement as legitimacy for Calderdale's withdrawal. The recent lighting is good, the paths and gradients less so, but the wildflower flower beds show how quickly nettles and weeds spring up when the people who should be running things decide to hand it over to amateurs.

Listening to these parents has been a disaster, almost all the recent changes were not funded by our authority, but by 'funny money' and by begging on TV. Not only were things that should be ours as a right not provided by our authority, but what was provided was skewed towards certain sub-sections of the local population. As a consequence the park became a focus for youth, not a place for the public. In my view the skate park should have gone where the new car park is on station road, but Calderdale likes cars and commuters like somewhere to park, so it's in the wrong place instead. We should have invested in youth services, outreach work, diversionary activities that would address widespread drug and alcohol use. Funding one off structures replaced investment in the wider infrastructure of the park and the claimed processes of youth engagement were mostly parents asking their own kids what they'd like - the majority were ignored.

Not only has the skate park and graffiti wall ruined the vista of the park, the graffiti has little or no artistic merit. Graffiti is largely the imposition of sub standard imagery on private property - criminal damage in fact. Why children need to practice that is beyond me. The real art, the ceramics under the footbridge, were kicked off within weeks of completion. But as they were done by a grown up so that must be the verdict of local youth and maybe we should just accept that and let them paint under there too.

So, because of this genuflection to youth and the poor setting of the skate park, many other park users have been squeezed out. The bowling club has been forced to move, largely by anti-social behaviour, but also by poor maintenance of their facilities. Mothers no longer take their daughters to play tennis on the tennis courts, which being within expletive range of the skate park and graffiti wall made them rather intimidating places to be. The putting green has been abandoned, the picnic tables are largely given over to drinking and drug use after school, financed mainly by parents as opposed to paid work.

However, there are also lots of pro-social and well balanced children who use the park, children who don't rely on stimulants or depressants and whose parents actually give a damn about them and the consequences of their behaviour. Football clubs, guides, lots of healthy and active children use this civic space as it should be used - these are the majority but they are in retreat, scared off perhaps by drug and alcohol use, foul language and adults tolerant of such. Perhaps we don't need to educate the young, but the minority of adults who give their children what they want, but fail to provide what they really need. We need to open our ears to the needs of their young and stop letting these liberal parents have so much say in what is provided locally.

From Les S

Friday, 10 September 2010

I am glad we can get angry about Calder Holmes, As one contributor said, one group seems to ignore the other. It is not helpful to excuse anti-social behavior by saying "there is nothing for them to do" "they have no job prospects" These statements seem to me to excuse and collude with bad behavior. I agree that we need to give young people the respect of being listened too and included but with that we must also must accept that they are responsible for their actions. If the police and local authority, and local community do not challenge the behavior of a minority then the sequel to Jez's film is already taking shape, It is worth noting that Alcohol related health problems are high in Calderdale, Young people are being hospitalised with Liver disease.

Calder Holmes should not become the Ghetto, It's Graphitti wall is hanging off, the names of those who died of drug and alcohol consumption are the only names held in any status there. The tennis courts look like prison exercise yards and the bridge from the park to the memorial gardens has also been "tagged". Again I fear that if the Skate Park is extended it will lose even more community association. It is mainly used by young men after all so even within youth circles it is not an inclusive feature! Balance and a little youth work and a bit of enforcement might be helpful. I understand there is a letter in the HB Times from a holiday maker saying that Hebden bridge is lovely but it's not nice at night. citing numerous concerns (sorry I've not read it)

I think it's okay to be angry about this, in a positive way, 'Shed your Tears'... is about the concerns of ignoring it. "They have nothing else to do" is ignoring it. Allowing Calder Holmes to relinquish any broad community appeal to become a "district 9" for anti social behavior is ignoring it.