Summer warms up, but the heat comes off for city bladers

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The Independent Online
In-line skating has found a new champion in the Government with Chris Smith, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Mr Smith has told officials that he wants to protect in-line skating in the Royal Parks from any renewed attempts to ban the sport.

He privately told friends he has come under renewed pressure since the election to curb in-line skating because of the risk to other park users. Parks police have been lobbying for a by-law to impose penalties, such as fines on those who break park rules covering in-line skating.

"If you are a little old grannie walking your chihuahua and you see a Panzer brigade of Rollerbladers coming, it can be intimidating," said a parks source. Mr Smith, who does not do the sport, is firmly digging in his heels on behalf of the skaters. The demands for a ban started two years ago when a BBC researcher, Mark Welch, 26, was killed when a skater crash into the bicycle he was riding.

The coroner accused the Royal Parks Agency of "spineless acquiescence to minority groups" for bowing to pressure from the skaters. Within weeks, it announced that in-line skating would be restricted to cycle tracks in Hyde Park, the Serpentine Road and - on Sundays, when traffic is prohibited - South Carriage Drive. In Kensington Gardens, in-line skating was allowed on the Albert Memorial Road and in a special area set aside for it on the Broadwalk. But it was banned in Green Park and Greenwich Park, St James's Park and Regent's Park. Skaters said the curbs were "undemocratic" and if there is more skating weather, Mr Smith may come under pressure to allow the skaters more freedom to roll.

Sunbathers basking in the sweltering weather will be targeted in a skin safety campaign run by Cancer Research Campaign, which is launching a national six-day tour of beaches and parks across the UK to encourage sun worshippers to take precautions. The roadshows will incorporate sun protection advice and campaigners will be slapping sun lotion on sunbathers. The focus is to be on educating children about the damaging effects of the sun in the light of a recent poll which showed that British youngsters would rather have a tan than be thin. Campaigners warn that a history of sunburn in childhood can increase the likelihood of developing skin cancer as an adult. As temperatures soared on Saturday in the south of England thousands of holidaymakers were caught in a traffic jam on the M5 from Gloucester to Exeter, in Devon.

London, the Midlands and East Anglia saw the highest temperatures, with a peak of 30C. The hot spell is due to break during the week with the onset of thunder storms but will return next weekend.