A SKATEPARK due to be built over by the council is irreplaceable according to a professional BMX rider.

James Hitchcox, 30, is the head of a Users Association for Byron Skatepark, off Christchurch Avenue, and is campaigning to save what he says is one of the best facilities for skaters and BMX riders in the country.

He said: "I have to be optimistic about saving it because it is what I have ridden for so many years.

"I was not that interested in school but I used to go down to the skatepark and one day I got noticed. That skatepark is what started my career.

"There is so much history and culture in the skate and BMX world. I have had riders come from Australia and America and stay at my house just so they can ride in a 1970s park."

The park was hand-crafted by a builder in 1976 and has attracted people from across the country ever since.

It is being demolished to make way for a new leisure centre and will be replaced by a new £300,000 facility in the centre of the park.

Councillor Paul Osborn, portfolio holder for strategy and business support, said: "The skate park has to move - there is no question about that. The whole project depends on it.

"I do not think it is fair to say that we cannot have a brand new leisure centre just because of this skate park."

The Harrow Times website has been inundated with calls to save the facility since the decision was made but Councillor Anjana Patel, portfolio holder for community and cultural services, has defended the plans.

She said: "We are not closing it, the new park will be a better one. This park is very old and the new one will be designed by the young people who use it.

"The youngsters will get what they want."

The council held a meeting on Tuesday night at Byron Park Leisure Centre to hear suggestions from users about what the new park should be like.

James has been riding since he was 12 and has used the skatepark for the past ten years.

He said: "If you ride in the park it is not perfect but that is what we like about it. Modern skate parks are made off site and they have no querkiness or originality.

"You cannot find someone to remake it. That park is a one off thing."

Do you have fond memories of the skatepark? Leave your comments below...