A ‘ridiculous’ order that left Kettering skaters open to criminal records is set to finally be changed six years after it was introduced.
The mere act of stepping on a skateboard in the Town Market Square or Morrisons car park was banned under a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) in 2016, when Kettering Borough Council (KBC), now defunct, became the first authority to take a drastic step.
The decision came despite a petition with more than 3,000 signatures and a public row that saw one councilor quit the ruling Tories. Skateboarders were warned they could receive a £100 fixed penalty notice if they broke the order, and prosecuted and taken to court if they failed to pay.
Labor’s Clark Mitchell, who first stood as a councilor because he was outraged by the initial proposal, was ecstatic.
The former skater said: “It’s the culmination of years of hard work and pressure to get this restriction dropped.
“I’ll volunteer to take a screwdriver and remove the panels myself.”
The NNC Executive Committee will meet tomorrow to decide whether to extend and amend Kettering’s PSPO, which also covers activities such as drinking and street begging, until July 2025.
The ordinance should be amended so that people are now prohibited from misusing skateboards in a way that could cause nuisance, alarm or distress, rather than using skateboards thoroughly. Skateboarding, which made its Olympic debut last year, was the only wheeled sport to suffer from the blanket ban which was likened to “taking an AK-47 to dab a nut”. The new “misuse” rule has applied to bicycles and scooters for several years.
A consultation saw a huge backlash against the skateboarding ban, with many saying it should be scrapped. Kettering City Council and Northamptonshire Police said it was ‘unduly restrictive’.
A consultation comment said: “I think not allowing people to cycle or skateboard in the city is the most ridiculous law Kettering has ever passed.”
Travis Clayton, owner of Illicit Skate Shop at The Yards, had to remind people not to skateboard when they leave because they could get in trouble.
Two Kettering Tories spoke out against the ban in 2016, calling it draconian. One of them, Steve Bellamy, was kicked out of the group and later resigned as an adviser.
The other, Michael Brown, was not expelled but has since left the area and now sits as a Conservative with West Northamptonshire Council.
He said: “It is incredibly encouraging to see that North Northamptonshire Council has acknowledged the highly destructive practices and failures of KBC over the past decade and is now looking to show leadership and turn the situation around.
“KBC has failed to show leadership both politically and professionally and it is now up to NNC to reverse this trend.
“Unfortunately, great councilors have been lost because of bad decisions by failing KBC management, like Steve Bellamy, who stood up for the city when no one else would.
“I congratulate all the elected officials who took part in this decision.”