Keep them off the streets

My opinion of the Manchester City Centre Management Company and the Council sinks lower. Not content with fining skateboarders a grand for making Cathedral Gardens look like a fun place to be, it turns out they’re charging kids to use the pokey little skate park they’ve built as an alternative.

Edit I started writing a comment in reply to Ian J’s, but it stretched out, and rather than risk spreading it over several boxes, I thought I’d put it in here-

Ah, you’ve fallen for the lie. I bet MCCMC would be hard pressed to find any instances of collisions between boarders and pedestrians that have resulted in injuries. They’re just trying to create a fear of these “tearaway youths”. It’s not as heinous as their earlier lie- that they were doing this to protect the kids from drug dealers. (By moving them from an open, easily policed area where they had strength in numbers and lots of passing traffic to a dark little cage far away from watchful eyes. Right.)

These people have a blinkered, commercial view of what should go on in the city centre. It’s just another example of the recurring problems Manchester’s councils have had with youth culture, the worst example of which being the destruction of a thriving nightlife in the 60s when the abomination that is Arndale was dropped on top of the most popular venues. This was achieved by, amongst other things, the planting of news stories about the prevalence of drugs amongst this subculture and its implied danger to the children of good families. There was also an appeal to parents’ racism, you can’t have a good smear campaign with out a bit of xenophobia. (Potted version, a more complete telling of the tale can be found in Shake, Rattle and Rain.)

It’s a bit harder to play the race card in a debate about skate boarding, but I think they may have gone for a more contemporary bogeyman. Notice in the first report the reference to older boarders leading the youngsters astray. Older boarders, hmmmmm. What interest could they have in hanging around with children? There’s no way it could possibly be a love of the sport- must be kiddy fiddlers in baggy clothing.

I’m not a skateboarder (though I admit, if I had a BMX I’d want to play on the street furniture) so I can’t really explain why this makes me so angry.