SKATERS and BMX bike riders have helped Southsea Skatepark improve its business by almost a third in its first three months after being taken over by a trust.
Southsea Skatepark Charity Trust took over the Clarence Esplanade venue from Portsmouth City Council on April 1, on a 60-year lease. In its first progress report, it has recorded a 31 per cent increase in income on the same April to July period in the last year.
Trustee Christine Richards said: ‘It’s gone really well. We have a lot of work to do, but we’ve worked hard to get here and it’s encouraging to see how far we’ve come.’
The skatepark attracted 15,700 paying guests from its April 1 reopening, to August 21. This compares to about 10,000 in the same period last year. Because of other income, including merchandising and extra events, it has exceeded the park’s £32,000 income for all of last year.
Ms Richards said: ‘In the run-up to opening, we had people come in and resurface all the ramps, as well as other improvements.
‘We have also added extra things on our website, to help encourage people to come down here, such as weather updates, and we have a new music policy, in which youngsters using the park can bring their own music and have it played while they skate.
‘We extended our weekday opening later into the evening, so youngsters can more easily get down and use the park, we sell merchandise on site, and we have started operating a roller disco and other events.
‘In July, the disco generated £1,000 more than just staying open as normal would have brought in.’
The trust receives cash from Portsmouth City Council each year, starting at £55,000 this year, and reducing by £11,000 per year, so in 2016 there will be no payment.
Ms Richards said: ‘We’re very grateful to the council.
‘They helped us attract workers to prepare for the reopening, and the funding they have set aside for us is also very useful.
‘It means we have to be self-sufficient by 2016, but that’s why it’s of benefit to the council for us to come in and run it.’
The council’s leader for culture, Cllr Lee Hunt, said: ‘It’s an excellent piece of news.
‘The skatepark’s a great facility and this shows the trust has made a really good start in running it.
‘It shows transferring assets to the third sector and voluntary groups can be a great success.’