Free running park walls too glossy to be used after Leicester City Council apply wrong paint
Parts of a £40,000 purpose-built free running park have been left unusable by a council graffiti art project.
Leicester City Council officials asked youngsters to brighten up the site in Eyres Monsell by decorating its obstacles – but used the wrong kind of paint.
The surfaces of the walls have been left too shiny and glossy to be used safely by people who enjoy free running or parkour – a form of urban acrobatics involving jumping off buildings and bouncing between benches, phone boxes and street signs.
The graffiti project was carried out in November last year but the paint mix-up has only been brought to light now by Liberal Democrat opposition councillor Nigel Porter.
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Yesterday, the council admitted the error and said the paints would be stripped off in the next few weeks.
The park was the first of its kind outside London when it opened in the summer of 2010.
Lewis Joyce, chairman of Leicester Parkour, the group which campaigned to get the free running site off Hillsborough Road, said: "It's been a bit of mess really. The graffiti project was meant to make the place look better.
"They should have used a special paint with ground granules in it that would help with grip but the stuff they used was sort of glossy and shiny.
"It looked okay and it was fine for a while but then it just got so you would slip off it.
"It was actually dangerous so we have been telling people not to use the bits that got painted." Mr Joyce said three of the taller walls were unsafe but the rest of the course could still be used.
He said: "It is a shame because for months the tallest parts – which a lot of people reckon are the best bits – have not been safe.
"We told the council and they said we would have to pay to get the paint removed. We said we wouldn't because none of this was our doing but now they have agreed to put it right."
Coun Porter said: "The council spent a lot of cash on a facility and then effectively made it unusable.
"When a resident first told me what had happened I didn't believe it could be true but it was.
"I should think this could have been sorted a long time ago. It's very embarrassing."
None of the painted area has been closed off and there are no signs warning people of the slippery surfaces. Graham Cox, 49, who lives near the free running site, said: "Effectively, all those walls are now are a very expensive place for kids from the estate to put their own graffiti. I don't see many people using it."
A city council spokesperson said: "A community graffiti art project was carried out on the site last year. Unfortunately, the paint used made the wall surfaces too slippery for parkour.
"We have looked at a number of options to put this right and get the park back into full use.
"The walls will now be taken back to a bare concrete surface by our graffiti team."
The council did not explain how it had come to use the wrong paint. It was unable to say how much the original graffiti project cost but said there would be no extra expense to remove the paint.