A BIG London firm of lawyers has today volunteered to represent the young skateboarders and BMXers of Dorset as they battle to save The Trick Factory in Bridport from being shut down and demolished.
The human rights lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith, best known for his work with prisoners at Guantamano Bay, said: “I suspect that will put the fear of God into the people who want to take this gem of Bridport away from these young people.”
The Trick Factory is Dorset’s only indoor skate park. It’s taken ten years to build up the venue inside an old industrial premises on St Michael’s Trading Estate, which is in the South West Quadrant (SWQ) of Bridport. The park is scheduled to be destroyed if the estate’s owner wins a planning appeal next month and gets the right to redevelop the SWQ, particularly for 175 new homes.
Trick Factory leader Robert Ridge got to know Mr Stafford-Smith, who lives near Bridport, when he went to do some plumbing for him. Mr Stafford-Smith visited The Trick Factory and was impressed. He was there tonight as local politicians, and other interested figures, were shown around.
And he revealed: “Just today I was on a telephone call with some lawyers with whom I’m doing a fairly big case in London on torture, and I told them all about The Trick Factory, and I said ‘Look, we’ve got much more serious issues here in Bridport than a little torture in London’ and it turns out that this big London firm is very much into doing this sort of planning work and they have volunteered to come and represent the kids down here at the Trick Factory. I suspect that will put the fear of God into the people who want to take this gem of Bridport away from these young people…
“We are talking about a very big firm, plus a barrister who lives down here too, who is sort of shocked that they want to take this away from the youth of Bridport, so with any luck we’re hanging on to it.”
Author’s note: I was surprised to hear Mr Stafford-Smith use the word “fear”, as he is so obviously a man whose work (in torture cases, for example) has taught him what fear means. So this could be a significant development…
Look out for more on The Trick Factory on this site tomorrow afternoon (Friday, December 18). More stories will appear after vital IT changes and updates go well in the morning. I am deliberately being optimistic; I am also keeping my fingers crossed!