I have great pleasure in delivering to Parliament and presenting a petition of 40,000 signatures in support of retaining the skateboarding area in the Southbank Centre in my constituency, just across the river. A number of groups have been collecting signatures, and the Save Southbank Skate Park group presented this petition to me and the right hon. Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark (Simon Hughes) last week. Since then, there has been another petition of 20,000 signatures, which I have not yet been able to get together to present.
This is a culturally and historically important area of the south bank. The Southbank Centre has some very new plans, which everybody wants to see happening, except that it has not engaged with and involved the skateboarders, and it wants them to move to an area which would not be one that they had built up themselves. The centre wants to have its restaurants where the skateboarders are, but many people feel that the restaurants could be where it wants to take the skateboarders. Whatever the situation is, my petition is very clear: some 40,000 people, and many more, want to retain skateboarding in the south bank. May I also say that it is good to see the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, the hon. Member for Wantage (Mr Vaizey), who has responsibility for the arts, in his place.
The petition states:
To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled.
The Humble Petition of users and fans of the Undercroft skateboard area,
That it has been the home to British skaters and riders for over 40 years but is threatened by development.
Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House take all steps to urge the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to ensure that the Southbank Centre preserves this facility in its development plans.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.