MP calls for skatepark safety laws

Carlisle Labour MP calls for tougher safety laws following death of teenager in Burnley's Piccadilly Park

Safety at skateparks is under the spotlight. Eric Martlew MP, (Labour, Carlisle), has called for tougher safety laws after a teenager died in a bicycle accident at Piccadilly Park in Burnley last week. Martlew will introduce a Private Member’s Bill to the House of Commons on 23 April to make it law for under-16s to wear cycle helmets on roads and in parks. He and Formula One driver David Coulthard launched the bill this week. Coulthard flew over especially from the Malaysian Grand Prix to lend his support. Martlew said: “Tragic cases such as this happen so often because youngsters do not wear helmets because of peer pressure. I will use this case as further evidence that wearing safety helmets should be made law.” Burnley councillors closed Piccadilly, Padiham, Sunny Clough and Queen’s Park after the accident but the parks have since reopened. Martlew said park keepers could police the law and “councils would welcome it”. “They have rules that are not being complied with by youngsters and would be less open to prosecution [if the law is introduced]. If we are not careful, skateparks could end up having to close because of litigation. “People may say this is a nanny-state law, but I say nannies look after children.” Martlew said he did not advocate extending the proposed law to over-16s, but added: “The state has a duty to look after children.” Wheathampstead and Redbourn in Hertfordshire are the latest places to consider adding to the 700-plus skateparks in the UK, but Normansland Common committee chairman Peter Barnes said the Wheathampstead scheme was unlikely to happen, partly because of safety concerns.

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