Grand Opening Day

East Lancashire’s first indoor skatepark has been hailed a major success after attracting more than a thousand youngsters in its first few months.

Junction 4 Skatepark in Darwen was given an official opening ceremony on Saturday, having opened its doors to skaters, BMX and scooter riders last September.

Since then, the £120,000 council-run facility has seen children and teenagers travel from all over the North West to test its halfpipes and ramps, with hundreds turning up on busy weekends.

It is based at the former Blackburn Rovers Sports Academy building, next to Darwen Vale High School, and regularly gets more than 100 visits per day.

Among the regulars is 13-year-old Dexter Williams, from Burnley, who is one of the top ranked scooter riders in the country.

Despite some opposition to the plans from some locals, who wanted the site to remain a fitness centre, Blackburn with Darwen Council leader Kate Hollern said it has been a ‘real success story’.

She added: “It’s been absolutely fantastic and I’m so pleased that we were able to respond to the requests from young people for a venue like this.

“They had been asking for a long time, because they were having to go up to Clitheroe which would cost them quite a bit.

“The site’s at the back of the school and out the way, so there’s no detriment to local residents.

“Now the youngsters have asked for a small shop in there so we’re going to try and do that.”

Stephen Ball, 35, of Priory Drive, Darwen, was there on Saturday with his nine-year-old son Josh, who rides a scooter.

And he says the park is just what is needed in the area and offers something to keep youngsters active.

He said: “I think it’s brilliant for the kids, and finally something for them to do.

“There are some who come in every single day, it’s brilliant.”

Josh, a pupil at St Joseph’s School, added: “It’s really good because we’d just have to ride on the street before.”

There are now more than 1,000 people registered to use the centre, who pay between £4 and £6.50 per session. Over 16s pay slightly more.

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