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Family friendly park?

From George Murphy

Monday, 8 April 2013

It's often difficult for us to see ourselves as others see us. Recently I have walked through the park and - as usual - I noticed the lovely setting and surrounding scenery and the chance to slip out onto the towpath and to experience the extra dimension of water and reflections and barges and geese. But my visitors have commented on how the park is dominated by teenagers, on the prevalence of swearing, on the failure to maintain the bowling and tennis and putting facilities. Finally, a local mum said how she keeps her young teenager away from the park where drugs are openly traded and there's a degree of public drinking.

Then there's the skate park. Yes, the skate park is popular, but it's also ugly. The graffitti is spreading to the surrounding area with homophobic and misogynistic writing on seats and walls. I'd been telling myself how good it was that we provide such a popular place for teenagers, but I now wonder whether we have felt bullied into allowing so many of the facilities and the public areas of the park to become dominated by groups of teens and young adults? And - thinking about that mum - do many parents feel the same way?

Still, the children's playground is popular and no doubt most of the teenagers are well behaved. The teams that clear the litter do a great job. Maybe my visitors were unlucky in their experience of our cool town. However, I know there is little money out there, but the park gardens are becoming depleted and this is adding to the increasingly forlorn look of the place.

Why is it in this country that teenagers become a separate social group? Why don't more extended family groups visit our park? Are there other people out there who feel slightly intimidated when they walk through the park? When anti social behaviours occur who would we turn to for support? Would we feel outnumbered?

Still, maybe it was just my visitors bringing their out of Hebden prejudices with them? Maybe I do the right thing by looking at the scenery and avoiding eye contact with young people. Oh, and I know the football players swear more loudly and frequently than most of the teenagers! This is a bit scatter gun in its approach, but I wonder how representative these feelings are?

From Dave R

Monday, 8 April 2013

I find the skate park a blot on what used to be a green and pleasant landscape. This could have been constructed in a much more urban surroundings and in my view. the language used for the graffiti (Art) is offensive and is seemingly being allowed to extend to the whole area.

We cannot seem to get things right in this country. The attitude of youth 'needing' their own space has led to greater gaps in society.

When did anyone last see a couple of pensioners bowling on the park? Oh, you won't because kids were allowed to extend their activities and space onto the bowling green so driving out the bowlers.

When did you last see a couple of elders having a chat and chewing the cud in the gardens? No? That's because the gardens are taken over by drinkers and weed smokers chilling out in their own way in 'their space'.
Kids having a paddle - Nope. Health & safety (broken beer bottles) put paid to that.

Picnic on the grass? Not on the bald muddy turf churned up by cyclist and skaters, thats their bit of green space.

Lovely displays of spring flowers to enjoy? Quite likely not, the council seem to go from winter bedding to summer so as a rule there's nowt much more than faded and weather-beaten poppy wreaths to 'enjoy' until July.

Put all these with the loud, abusive and threatening language of some park users (who unfortunately do dominate), and you don't need to be 'out of area' to see the decline.

From Jane O'Hara

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

The next Friends of Calder Holmes Park meeting is Tuesday 9th April, 7pm at the Park Life Cafe. Please come along to share your views and participate in the discussion of current and future issues and plans for the park.

New members are always welcome.

From Colin C

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

As the father I quickly learnt that Calder Holmes isn’t the best environment for young children. Far better to take the short journey to Tod, where they manage to keep the park family friendly and relatively tidy.

However I do often pass through Calder Holmes on my way home from work. This allows me to take in those balmy summer evenings where the long days bring about the usual local assault on the senses. What a joy it is seeing the kids in their Calder High uniforms drinking their cheap booze until they fall over, making little gardens of their empty cans and bottles. As a walk I invariably catch the heady whiff of ganja in the air, and hear the delightful halcyon cries of swearing youths threatening to kick each others heads in.

All this within feet of the main path. I think the kids on the skatepark are the least of the park’s problems

From Gwen Goddard

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

If anyone has photographic evidence of offensive graffiti, in the park or anywhere else, Calderdale is required to have it removed. The easiest way to get action would be to take the evidence in to Customer First in the new Town Hall building. They will then start the appropriate procedure.

From Jane O'Hara

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Really good FCHP park meeting tonight and good to see a new face who made a really useful contribution. Issues from this discussion thread were raised and will be brought to the attention of the relevant community agencies, thank you for your comments.

We will keep you informed of the next meeting via this forum.

From Jade Smith

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

When I was involved in the remodelling of the Memorial Garden in Mytholmroyd I was stood next to a hole in the ground where a tree was to be planted.

On one occasion an ‘adult’ member of the public asked me, and I quote, “Is that hole for the young scrotes to be buried in?”

I asked her if she knew how much money the young people had raised for the project and what their positive involvement was. She had no idea and merely grunted when I told her. She had within her not an ounce of grace nor the courage to change her view.

She was not alone in expressing such vitriol towards the young people who had worked with me to shape the garden. What a surprise, then, that young people want a space of their own when this is the attitude that is expressed about them by adults whose mirror image they merely reflect!

From Phil M

Thursday, 11 April 2013

While the original poster makes a constructive statement to open a discussion, replies seem to be skewed and a little daft!

As an opinion, I think the skate park is a great addition (although I do worry about the state of their knee joints in later life!)

What activities do the 'kids' do that pushed the pensioners out from their (now completely unused) bowling green? I don't get it?

I see alot of people using the park, chewing the cud and having picnics, as a family we do these things and I see others doing so too..

Yes there are a few issues, a group of yoof normally to be found doing what yoof do, maybe a little too unchecked..

Council money, being as scarse as it is under our lovely Tory government, I can imagine spring bedding may have bin given the chop but it's good to know there's constructive measures afoot and I applaud Jane and the Friends of Calder Holmes Park (as opposed to taking cheap shots about how disgraceful it all is)

From Jenny B

Friday, 12 April 2013

Whilst I applaud the efforts of friends of HB Park and agree that the way to change things is to join in, we cannot all do so, but by opening a dialogue in a forum such as this we can contribute our views and receive feedback.

I think that for Phil to accuse anyone with a different viewpoint of being negative is a slightly blinkered view, but I accept that he obviously enjoys the park.

However, I would point out that he bowling green is unused because kids riding bikes, playing football on it etc., made it unsuitable for bowling league standards. Personally, I would have liked to have seen it well maintained for the use of everyone, including young people for bowling on.

Teaching your kids to respect other spaces shared areas is not difficult. My goodness I remember not daring to walk on the grass in certain areas of the park. The expansion of the skate park is brilliant, but it is obviously not a quiet activity, so to sit and chat or even picnic in the vicinity is not something I find relaxing.

My children have outgrown the play park but due to the appalling language, graffiti and drinking culture, I do discourage them from using the skate park. In fact when we do walk through, usually to the station, we like to watch the skaters from a distance. They are very talented after all, but more often than not I have to move on as the language is so vile. This is not just young people either, before anyone accuses me of being anti-youth.

Bare Flowerbeds may be the inevitable result of cutbacks, but the park placed as it is on the main road, would really benefit from some attractive and colourful planting. Plenty of villages in HB have groups who will plant spring bulbs, clean up etc., so maybe the users of the park could consider volunteering to do this? Maybe they already do?

Whether you find the park 'family friendly' or not, really must depend on your own situation. Maybe the 'language and behaviour of the yoof' that Ian finds so unoffensive, depends upon the age or principles of park visitors. I personally don't like it so don't use the park. Is that whinging/ compaining/ being negative? Or is it just my view contributing to the debate. Because it's not a debate if we all assume that we are right, and everyone else is wrong is it?

From Phil M

Friday, 12 April 2013

Jenny - I would never say all opposing views were negative. (a couple above are however to my mind a little skewed and slightly daft)..

Didn't know (and often wondered) why the bowling stopped, until I had a nipper I never spent any time in the park apart from the festivals so didn't see the demise..

Overall its a fantastic space and seeing the Parklife cafe pop up was a great addition.

As I said, some aspects do go a little too unchecked and these should be sorted, not sure how as I am sure the people who would do this are gainfully employed elsewhere..

More events would maybe raise the money to do the things which I agree would enhance the space. If we had any semblance of a summer this would be easier... examples being a film weekend in conjunction with the Picturehouse but with a cinema tent in the park through the day . . . outdoor theatre in conjunction with the little theatre . . . music in conjunction with the Trades.

From Chris G

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Teenagers drinking and swearing in the par!!!! Whatever next!!!!

I'm glad they feel enough part of their community to do this in a fairly public place rather than in some unlit clearing off the towpath where bad things happen. I am impressed that our youth are proactively organising and developing their space for their needs because lets face it - the rest of us haven't exactly got together and organised a whole bunch of youth clubs and other activities for teenagers - which is probably for the best since anything we organised would be severely uncool.

I have never felt threatened walking through the park even though I would love to have a chat to some of the youngsters about what they project.

Its clear to me that there are a bunch amongst the teenagers who are actively working to make good things happen there. To this group I say keep it up and bring your dreams to life. I hope they get the support they deserve from the rest. And please, kids, if things are happening that are not safe - tell someone about it.

Chris Greaves


From Isla S

Monday, 15 April 2013

Is it to some extent a question of perception?

I was at the Park Life Cafe when a young lad (10ish) fell off his scooter on the skate ramp and chipped his tooth. His dad had nipped to the shops and the lad was clearly shaken up but trying to put a brave face on things. Three older lads aged 16-18ish escorted him and his friends to the Park Life cafe and sat with him and offered to go find his dad in town, and also brought his scooter round to make sure it was safe.

I've looked after children using the ramp and there has been a mix of ages from about 3-18 all respecting each others levels of ability and use of the ramp. Yes there might be a minority especially later at night but don't presume all 'Youths' or 'Teenager' are causing trouble.

The only issue I've ever had in the park were caused by a 40 something man buying underaged kids alcohol...

From George Murphy

Monday, 15 April 2013

Since starting this thread - which seems to have hit a raw nerve, judging by the responses - I've been to a meeting of the Friends of Calder Holmes park. I haven't received the minutes yet, so no doubt other attenders will respond to, correct or clarify some of the points in this piece.

My original note was in response to comments from visitors who noted the deterioration in the park facilities, especially the provision for putting, bowling and tennis. I stuck up for the skate park, but they noted how the graffiti has spread to other areas and was ugly and often offensive. The gardens were becoming threadbare. As older people they felt excluded. Then a local mum mentioned to me that she doesn't allow her young teenage daughter to go to the park because of the of the under age drinking and trading of drugs that she had witnessed. I wondered if this feeling was widespread.

The Friends are an impressive group of people. Although several are employed to work with young people (sometimes unpaid, I think) they were quite hard headed and honest in their assessment of the challenges they faced. Nevertheless, with support from a council officer they pointed out that there has been a decline in youth crime and reports of under age drinking in this area. I was encouraged to hear that a bandstand could be provided in the near future (although, sadly this will be on the old bowling green). The tennis courts will be refurbished and supplemented with facilities for 'small games'. I got the firm impression that the group would welcome new members who spoke up for the needs of the wider community.

So, as it belongs to us all, I argued that cross generational use of the park should be their aim. I suspect that the appearance of the place is important. I put in a plea for maintenace of the putting green (a forlorn hope I fear). But I forgot to argue for the refurbishment of the riverside walk with seats and new planting.

No doubt the park will continue to be dominated by young people. They need to socialise and they are excluded at pubs and clubs unless with their parents. Of course, most (the huge majority) are unthreatening and the devil's in our own minds. The people in the cafe are doing a great job.

The Friends are working hard to attract the funding necessary to maintain and improve the fabric of our park.

It seems strange that earlier, poorer generations took pride in providing top class public amenities (civic centres, gardens, parks and libraries). But in the present political climate I congratulate the Friends for doing their best and I hope that the future of the park is an all inclusive one because I think that's a healthier environment for young and old alike.

From Dave R

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

How refreshing to hear of someone who cares about an issue , voices his opinion and then gets up and does something about it.

I did feel that some of the responses to George's initial post were very defensive, and seemed to take any criticism as an attack on youth.
Most of us were careful to make the point that the 'problems' as we see them, are not the fault of the young, but of a minority which can cover all age ranges.

Just because not everyone has experienced any negative behaviour when trying to use the park, those fortunate people should not seek to discredit those who have, by chanting the 'youth intolerance mantra'.

To respond to those who wish to see social inclusion implemented in our shared pubic places, with suggestions that they are less than tolerant of our youth is rather predictable and less than helpful.

I think that George has identified the issue as a need for inclusion - a park for all as intended by our ancestors. Surely that means working together, and not against any of those who are enjoying the facilities in a responsible manner.

Much more useful indeed to take a leaf out of George's own book and contribute to the wider debate by meeting those who can ensure a park is for all.

From Trish B

Saturday, 20 April 2013

It's not the most attractive park I have ever seen but it does its best to cater for all ages, an open space for games, a kiddies area etc and perhaps the most interesting bit is the skate park, I am in my forties and often pause to watch the teenagers doing their tricks on bikes and boards, I have never felt unwelcome even though I am not of their age group.

From Joanne T

Sunday, 9 June 2013

I refer to the Calder Holmes Action Day report and wonder at what stage this is at please? I've seen lots of Notices in the park regarding the new Dog Laws, which is fine and as a responsible dog owner, I am pleased to see this.

My concern is focusing on the amount of litter (yet again) as this just never seems to be addressed. Please tell me I am wrong? How many people in Hebden Bridge have been prosecuted for leaving litter in Calder Holmes Park, or anywhere in Hebden Bridge? People regularly sit in their social circles having brought with them their drinks in a plastic bag from the local outlets. However, for some unknown reason, they just don't seem able to reuse this very same plastic bag to collect their litter and empty alcohol or plastic bottles and put it all in the bins which are not but a few yards away. Beyond belief really.

The park cleaners are having to clear up the most mess on a Saturday/Sunday morning just because someone else doesn't care, thinks it is beneath them, is too lazy or disrespects the area they live in. Does anybody do anything about it? If not, why not?

So, whilst we have new Dog Control Orders, what about the existing Laws regarding littering and the fact that it is an offence, to drop rubbish. Let's why do we not name and shame, encourage these selfish people to clean up their act or get them to face the consequences?

From Rob Blake

Monday, 10 June 2013

I've been doing a spot of litter picking in the Mytholmroyd / Brearley fields areas and I can tell you that the problem is not just confined to Calder Holmes Park.

I think that It's an attitude thing - teenage kids are dropping the litter to show each other how cool and rebellious they are.

Last year we found an abandoned tent completely filled with empty beer cans and disposbable barbecues left in the middle of local beauty spot Blake Dean.

A friend of mine who works at Glastonbury and Leeds festivals tells me that this is a growing problem with teenagers who go to these events. They are seeing a new trend where people show up with cheap tents, sleep in them for a few nights and then use them as toilets and litter bins before abandoning them at the end of the festival, letting someone else worry about clearing up the mess.

This kind of thing is now spilling out into the mainstream and I don't really know what, if anything, can be done about it.

One idea I had is to get more people litter picking. I do it a bit and actually enjoy it. Maybe if we could get Calder High on board too we could make a real difference.