As you’ve probably noticed by now, this isn’t a “Last Orders” as you’ve come to expect on a Saturday, but don’t panic, we are just giving it a week off to divert your attention to a much more pressing issue.
Toby Shuall is the man behind the current campaign to safeguard the future of iconic London skate spot Southbank, and as a long time London local, has set up the online petition which every skateboard owner in the country should have already signed.
Read what he’s got to say on the subject then spread the word…
For those reading this that don’t know, could you explain why Southbank is such a pivotal part of the UK skate scene?
Well, if you live in London and you are skateboarder, all year round when it rains you have two options for a daily skate on a week day – you can go to Bay66 and pay or you can go to Southbank. I mean there is Cantalowes now too, but when you consider the rain which we all know comes down a lot in an average English Winter, they are your two options pretty much. Put it this way, I went there probably 5 days a week for about ten years when I skated all the time. It’s our hub for street skating in London and arguably the British skate scene. It’s where a lot of skaters start to get good, a training ground for skating and somewhere you can always go and skate.
What are the current concerns that prompted you to start the petition?
I was walking over Waterloo Bridge one day and it dawned on me if I did not do anything to create attention to the Southbank’s insecure future I may one day make that walk and see no skaters under there and instead I may see a Starbucks. I thought as a citizen of London I must make an effort to prevent this as it would be a terrible loss to the city and it would haunt me that no one bothered to try and prevent it from going like so many other amazing spots in the world, like Embarcadero or Love Park.
You have been working on a short film that ties in with the petition, can you give us a rundown of the film?
The film is about the Southbank, the skateboarders and the issues of public space being turned into private space. It features interviews with people that are not skaters but are respected members of society voicing their opinions on the area. It is mainly an interview with Professor Iain Borden and Will Alsop, the famous architect. I wanted to voice the opinion of skateboarders through people who have more respect than us with “higher” echelons in society. It premiered on the 7th of February at the Prince Charles Theater.
What’s the most memorable thing you’ve seen go down at Southbank over the years?
I would have say Ben Jobe doing a hippy hop over the high bar around the big banks into the bank and spinning himself 360 in the air. He actually landed on his board and got a zoomer but he fully landed back on his board. Fucking gnarly, I’ve never seen anyone try such a thing.
Any last words or final message for the people reading this?
Whether you love or hate South Bank this is not about scenes or groups this is about skaters standing up for their rights to be included in society and standing up for our rights as decent people who are doing a creative free practice that does nothing but good for those who are a part of it and those who see it. We belong in the middle of our capitol city at our home as much as everyone else and I am sick of skaters not being accepted as constructive members of society. Please make sure you register your vote at the online petition, and get your Mum to do it and everyone you know – we need to get 5000 votes. And whilst you’re at it, sign the Harrow as well!