Published Thursday, 12th July 2018

Social entrepreneurs are taking over a York skatepark to give it a bright new future – and are inviting residents to a free trial.

In an innovative move, City of York Council has entered into an agreement with a social enterprise to breathe new life into Zoo Skatepark as it’s to be known - and local skaters are invited to come and try it out.

The park, located under Sainsbury’s car park on Foss Bank, is to be taken over by Zoo Skatepark Ltd, jointly run by Craig Whitehead, rollerblader and founder of the Yorkshire Bladers group and by Andy Simpson, managing director of the York-based social enterprise, BrightSparks.

The agreement has ensured that the skatepark will stay open to young people and skate sport enthusiasts from across York.

The managers have already refurbished and modernised the skatepark and have plans to make it accessible to an even wider range of skaters - including disabled users - as well as provide an alternative education offer for young people not in education, employment and training across the city.

The revamped Zoo Skatepark offers supervised and supported sessions and birthday parties with experienced and qualified skate sports staff at hand who are first aid trained and ensure safe and supervised sessions.

The skatepark also has a refurbished cafe and seating area providing hot and cold food and snacks for parents and skatepark users. The team at Zoo is also planning an extensive programme of live music and skate sports exhibition events as well as children’s summer holiday camps to provide families with an exciting and fun way to keep young people active over the summer holiday periods.

Operations director Craig Whitehead said: “Zoo is the only indoor skatepark in York and we know that parents value knowing their children and young people are skating at a safe and professionally-run skatepark. We also know that there is a strong and growing community of people that love participating in skate sports and we want Zoo to be the destination for all of these users.”

Cllr Nigel Ayre, executive member for leisure and culture at City of York Council, said:  “We are really excited to be entering into this new agreement and to have secured the future of this city centre skatepark. Bright Sparks have some inspiring and welcome plans about how they will develop the provision to be more inclusive and, in the longer term, self supporting.”

The team at Zoo Skatepark and the council is inviting residents to a free launch event for the new skatepark on Saturday 14 July from 11am to 2pm. Then, scooter, skateboard and rollerblade or rollerskate riders can experience the skatepark for free. Full details can be found at www.zooskatepark.com

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