Words by Henry Edwards-Wood
Photo’s courtesy of Dom Marley
Mark ‘Fos’ Foster one foots London’s most prestigious spot.
This Wednesday (23rd February 2011) saw what will hopefully be the first of many Southbank user meetings at the Royal Festival Hall. The meeting was organised by the Southbank Centre and its aim was to open communications between themselves and the skateboarding community who use the Undercroft area.
Before the meeting I was fearful that we would be told that Southbank was going to be shut down or we were to be relocated to some crappy skate park somewhere else, a fear shared by my fellow SB locals and London skateboarders alike. However the other meeting attendees and I were pleasantly surprised. It seems as though Southbank is here to stay for the foreseeable future, and what’s more the SB authorities have said they will work closely with the skaters to improve the space.
It was established that BMX riders did not care about SB as there was not one present at the meeting. We spoke about the serious injury a BMXer caused a pedestrian last year and voiced how BMXers are dangerous and ignorant and should have no place in the Undercroft (as it used to be). The skateboarders were also quick to ask why graffiti had been allowed to take place in Southbank for the past four years. The organisers had no idea that we objected to the graffiti, in fact they thought we loved it as it was part of the “urban culture” that everyone so easily pigeon holes us into. The meeting organisers, Julia Sawyer and John Gray were very receptive to these revelations and have vowed to address the graffiti situation as well as to look at banning BMXers from riding at Southbank.
Other topics that were discussed were better lighting, replacing the original railings and adding barriers to separate the public, more bins, the temporary beach that will be opposite the Undercroft in the summer and CCTV that will be installed. They also said that they would provide us with squeegees and other equipment for us to dry the floor when it is wet down there, which is a result.
Andrew Brophy floats one of his legendary ollies high above the rubble.
These meetings will now be held quarterly and there is talk of setting up a page on the Southbank Center website to allow for the skateboarding public to be kept up to date with the goings on in the Undercroft. Some changes will be almost instant, some will be more long term, but the bottom line is that Southbank isn’t going anywhere!
Overall this is a massive result and a good start to what will hopefully become a strong alliance with the Southbank Centre authorities. The notes from the meeting will be written up and emailed to the attendees so keep your ears peeled for more info on the changes to our beloved Undercroft.
Scroll down to comment on this first session or discuss it on our facebook page.