Our skatepark cleaned up crime - now it's being closed

A community skatepark that brought an area of derelict land back to life under a Glasgow bridge is set to be closed to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Kingston DIY Community Skatepark was founded in 2020 after a group of skaters started using the spot under the M8 motorway bridge south of the River Clyde.

Using materials bought through crowdfunding, they gradually built ramps, rails, ledges and boxes for people to use.

Amey Consulting, which maintains the local roads for Transport Scotland, said the area would be fenced off due to anti-social behaviour - but said the skaters were not to blame.

It said problems include vandalism, unsolicited graffiti, fire-raising and drug use.

Stuart Ramage, 29, who founded the park alongside his friends Ben Dean, Roan Ballatine and Tam Limbrey, said the facility had been welcomed by the community.

"This came out of no where," he said. "There was no warning, we've just been told their decision."

Stuart told how Kingston DIY was founded after he struggled to find somewhere to skate with his friends when it rains.

"We found this spot under the Kingston Bridge that seemed to be derelict, so we decided to build a small ledge to skate.

"We were down there for a couple weeks before a bunch of other people started turning up as well.

"So we set up a page where people could donate and we could build some more things."

As the project grew, word spread and locals set up a small community garden as well as litter-picks to help clean up the area.

"It's still a constant battle of tidying it but it's quite difficult when there's not regular bin collections," said Stuart. "None of us had any experience before, we've just be learning as we go.

"There were two other DIY skateparks in Glasgow at the time - Arches in the West End and Burnfield in the Southside - and they helped us learn the skills and lent us their tools.

"People come down for every build and we let them have a shot and help them learn skills too."

'Less anti-social behaviour'

Stuart believes the park helped reduce crime in the area with the regular presence of the skaters.

"The tough thing is that you're never going to have an area completely free of anti-social behaviour," he said.

"But since the skaters have been in, it polices itself and we get notified if anything dodgy is happening."

"The longer we've been down there, there's less and less anti-social behaviour going on.

"We've had conversations with police in the area and they were basically thanking us for making their jobs slightly easier under the bridge."

A petition against the plans to fence off the skatepark gained about 1,900 signatures in a single day.

Stuart said the support had been "amazing", adding: "When stuff like this happens, people are more than ready to stand up to it.

"We've had comments from parents whose kids have lessons at the skatepark - people across Scotland use the space and they want to save the place.

"And it's a greater issue than just that - free, outdoor, community spaces like this in Scotland are underfunded and often lack proper thought."

Amey said the location had suffered from "significant anti-social behaviour issues".

A spokesperson said: "These behaviours include vandalism, unsolicited graffiti, fire-raising, drug use, and the littering of drug paraphernalia and littering.

"Amey has a duty of care to ensure these areas are kept clean, tidy, and safe for use for all road users, and while our patrols do all they can to monitor these areas they cannot provide an effective overall solution."

Amey made clear that the skate park users were not to blame for the problems, but said the safety and upkeep of the road was paramount.