A social media campaign has been launched to #keepiceinbasingstoke. Members of the Ice Rink Users Forum are encouraging people who visit the Leisure Park to share their stories on what the Planet Ice facility means to them.
The campaign comes following uncertainly surrounding the short-term future of the rink.
As previously reported in the Gazette, users of the rink, which is home to an array of sports and activities including the Basingstoke Bison ice hockey team, various recreational ice hockey teams, figure skaters and recreational skaters alike, have been putting pressure on developers NewRiver REIT Plc to include a new rink in its £300 million redevelopment of the Leisure Park.
Even though members of the forum are pleased to hear that long-term plans are moving forward, getting a short-term alternative while the redevelopment is being carried out is unclear.
The forum is calling on Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council to ‘keep ice in Basingstoke’ and help find a place for an ice rink.
Chair of the Ice Rink Users Forum Stewart Tempest said: “The borough council have land they have sat on for years, unused land, waiting for a purpose, land that is actually owned by the rate payers and voters of the town.
“The borough are an extremely asset rich council, one piece of land will hardly make a dent in the large portfolio available to them.”
The Leisure Park development is unlikely to happen until the middle of the next decade, but structurally the current rink is not expected to last a significant amount of time.
Mr Tempest added: “The clock has started ticking. In order to ensure continuity of ice in our town, Basingstoke and Deane need to identify the land, apply for planning, and start making up for their past misdemeanours.”
Rob Ronan, a member of the forum and frequent user of the ice rink, added: “The aim of this [campaign] is to raise awareness of what is happening at the rink and the actual impact on people rather than the figures or votes that the council seem to be focused on.
“So maybe we can apply some pressure on the councillors involved in the decision making process to hurry the decision on the piece of land that the temporary rink will be located on while the redevelopment of the leisure park takes place.”
The borough council said it continues to support ice rink users, however, due to the ongoing legal challenge from Festival Place operators AEW about the Leisure Park development, any future plans are likely to be delayed.
Cabinet member for property and development at the borough council, Councillor John Izett, said: “We remain supportive of the ice users and Bison supporters, as we understand the importance of the ice rink to the town.
“That is why our agreement with NewRiver Leisure Ltd includes investigating options for the development of a modern ice rink, as part of an overall redevelopment of the Leisure Park.”
Source: Basingstoke Gazette