By Sarah McVeigh

After years of going along to council meetings hoping to champion the cause of skateboarding in Brisbane, it became clear to ex-professional skater Scott Shearer there is power in numbers.

So came the birth of the Brisbane Skate Cartel – a group with a mandate to represent the views of skateboarders within the Brisbane community and to put pressure on council to take action on the derelict state of many of the city’s parks.

Brisbane skating park
Paddington Skate Park is riddled with cracks, making it unsafe to ride. Skaters say council should forget about cleaning up the graffiti at the site and focus on investing in the skating related features of the park.

The Cartel has 200 members and with Shearer at the helm, has started getting feedback from council.

Deputy Mayor Adrian Schrinner praised the Cartel for the information Shearer offered on behalf of the group.

“I believe the feedback provided in the booklet is most constructive and as such, I provided a copy to both Cr Geraldine Knapp, Chairman of the Families and Community Services Committee and Cr Peter Matic, Chairman of the Environment, Parks and Sustainability Committee.

“I requested they give consideration to the Skate Cartel’s suggestions in developing a skate park strategy,” said Schrinner in a letter to the Cartel.

Scott Shearer says the strategy is the first step in rebuilding Brisbane’s skateboarding reputation.

“Brisbane was doing well 15 to 20 years ago, we were leading the way in skate parks but in recent times we’ve fallen behind,” says Shearer.

Shearer says social problems start when parks become too run down to ride and that fixing the parks is the best way to keep them safe for everyone.

Close to home

“A few of us got together and did our own D.I.Y repairs (at the Paddington Skate Park) … we spent weekends and evenings for several weeks down there and nobody from council hassled us about it which was good,” he says.

But according to Shearer and other local Paddington skaters including Marcel Lip, more needs to be done.

“They need to look after them after they build them … they need to scrap (Paddington) and build a whole new park,” says Lip.

Skate Cartel member David Miller says despite some people in the wider community’s views, skaters are not usually the ones to cause trouble at the Paddington Skate Park.

“People causing trouble aren’t usually skaters,” he says.

He says the Cartel’s role is to change these assumptions.

“The purpose is to bring a positive message of skateboarding to local society,” he says.

While the Cartel has done some repairs, Miller says there is always more to fix in a place so special, to so many.

“This place is a refuge for a lot of people,” says Miller.

Marcel Lip says the highest ramp at the park is not used by most skaters anymore, since it is covered in cracks and bumps.

The crevices in the concrete make the ramp dangerous to skate and Shearer says it is because the council didn’t employ professionals for the job.

Several of the skaters at the park say there is no danger of bullying or anti-social behaviour though, but that it is easy to get hurt on old, broken skate features.

Brisbane skating park cracks
The skate bowls fill with water during heavy rain, making them impossible to skate for long periods after. Skaters say they should have used a different material to build with, or should install a drainage system.

Local skater ‘Dart’ says the Paddington Skate Park could hugely benefit from a relatively small investment of funds.

“They just need to fix the drainage – it’d cost $20,000 or maybe $30,000 to do that,” he says.

Mother of six-year-old scooter rider Fin, Marie Edgerly, says the older boys look after the young ones.

“They’re very friendly here,” she says.

While the council has indicated it will consider developing a skate strategy, Shearer says the key is in community consultation.

“You have to ask the people who are down here skating everyday what they want, what’s best for them,” he said.

For six-year-old Fin, that is simple.

“I just like to skate,” he says.

Take a look at pictures of the skate park to see what work needs to be done here.

Hear skaters’ opinions on their park here.