A NEW £200,000 Clitheroe skate park has already attracted youngsters from all over the north of England, before its official opening at the weekend.

The gates to the park, which sits in the Woone Lane corner of Clitheroe Castle grounds, were opened on Good Friday.

Since then hundreds of local children and dozens from as far afield as Manchester, Liverpool, Huddersfield and Halifax, have sampled its state-of-the-art concrete curves.

The park, which has been built and funded by the Lancaster Foundation a charitable trust set up by the founder of Ultraframe John Lancaster replaces a smaller park which was closed amid safety concerns in 2002.

Managed as part of a £1million scheme to revamp the town's Grand Theatre, in York Street, the park will have free entry.

The people behind the project have also responded to critics who claimed the decision to open the park early contributed to an accident where a 12-year-old boy nearly impaled his foot on a nearby gate last week.

Matthew Gawthorpe, of Kemple View, Clitheroe, escaped unhurt after he impaled his shoe on a six-inch metal spike as he tried to hurdle a locked gate in the Castle grounds.

Ribble Valley Council, which owns and manages the grounds, said it didn't know the skate park was being used by youngsters and, if it had, then the gate would not have been locked.

Tim Furnell, skate park manager, said: "Already word-of-mouth seems to have spread and we've had people from all over north of England coming to use this park.

"Every sunny day since it opened there have been 80 to 100 people using it at any one time. People are coming because they've heard it's a decent park which, unlike most good parks, is free to use.

"It's been designed by architects who have an interest in skate boarding and has some pretty rare features. It has a large bowl which replicates the swimming pools first used by people in the 1970s. The official opening event is on Saturday, but we always intended to open it before the Easter weekend. However, we weren't going to advertise this fact because we just wanted the local skaters to use it before everyone else." Clitheroe skate park will have its official opening day on Saturday starting at 11.30am. A formal opening will be followed by prizes on offer for the best skaters.