YOUNGSTERS are being quizzed on ways to save Ashbourne's skate park after it was closed due to vandalism.
Police have responded to complaints from staff at Ashbourne Leisure Centre, where the skate park is located, that youths are "intimidating" them when confronted about damage caused at the public facility.
Officers say they aim to tackle the "loutish behaviour" by talking to the skate park's users and ensuring nobody is heading there to cause trouble.
A spokesman for the district council, which has closed the facility until a solution is found, said: "Sadly, a few people are regularly vandalising the skate park and every time this happens local council tax payers are picking up the bill for us to repair the damage.
"It is regrettable that in recent times criminality has extended to damaging the area around the park and intimidating leisure centre users, some of whom have cancelled memberships as a result.
"The skate park is a positive asset to the local community and we continue to work with the county council, local police and Ashbourne ID, the original fund-raising group, to help protect it.
"As a local community safety partnership, we will be seeking an opportunity – together with local police representatives – to meet again with young users of the skate park and to listen to their views and find a way forward.
"This may include prohibiting ball games and ensuring it is used exclusively as a skate park, which was the original intention.
"Sadly, the district council has reached the stage now where it simply cannot afford to continually spend money on repairs on top of ongoing maintenance of the parks and ramps.
"Our Ashbourne councillors are aware of this situation and of the abuse regularly dished out to leisure centre users and staff."
Ashbourne's sergeant, Denis Murphy, said the safer neighbourhood team had been working with youngsters. He said: "The skate park is a great amenity and is of critical importance to the town in diverting young people from criminal and anti-social behaviour.
"It is a great shame when such a facility itself becomes the target of damage and that the location becomes associated with loutish behaviour.
"The leisure centre is a location that we have been monitoring for some time and we have been doing some engagement work with the local young people addressing local anti-social behaviour issues.
"We are resolved to work with the leisure centre management, the community and other stakeholders to improve the situation.
"It's vitally important for young people to make the right choices about how they behave towards the skate park.
"We will take a partnership approach to tackling any offending and I would reassure the community that we will continue to be positive about this."