Skating rink plan for Biggleswade’s festive season put on ice to next Christmas

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Project will be prioritised for winter 2024, meeting told

Skating enthusiasts must wait another 12 months to use an ice rink as part of Biggleswade’s winter festivities.

A synthetic ice rink would potentially form part of the town council’s Christmas offering in a year’s time, a meeting heard.

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Council officers have been compiling estimates to provide the facility in time for this Christmas, but warned there was no specific budget for the project.

People will have to wait until next winter to enjoy a skating rink as part of the town's Christmas festivities in BiggleswadePeople will have to wait until next winter to enjoy a skating rink as part of the town's Christmas festivities in Biggleswade
People will have to wait until next winter to enjoy a skating rink as part of the town's Christmas festivities in Biggleswade

Their report to a town centre management meeting last month recommended deferring the idea until 2024. A virtual meeting was held last week to discuss the issue.

“Assuming the local authority would prefer to proceed with the cheapest supplier, the estimates for low, medium and high demand were £8,500, £6,800 and £11,300,” according to an updated report to the town council.

“These are based on a £10 ticket cost with the majority of survey respondents deeming this fair, a capacity of 35 skaters, operating for 24 hours (eight hours per day over three days) for 30-minute slots,” said the report.

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“Low is based on 25 per cent capacity at all times, medium is 50 per cent capacity and high is 75 per cent. It was agreed in principle to defer any synthetic ice rink hire until next year.

“The £8,500 quote was increased from £4,500 by one of the suppliers, which made a mistake initially.”

Officers intend to produce a business plan for a town centre management committee meeting on February 20, added the report.

Town councillor Jonathan Woodhead said: “It’s a little sad the recommendation is not to go ahead this year. Perhaps having a 12-month run up gives us more time to have sponsorship and consider other aspects.

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“This could be a really interesting and important fixture for the town’s Christmas offering. There are ice rinks in other local towns, which attract people from Biggleswade and hopefully we can retain them here.

“We should be bold and ambitious by considering this, even if the mood isn’t to have it this year.”

Town councillor Michael North wondered whether “an outside contractor would come along and do it for us, collect the money as it’s chargeable and incur the expenses, so we’re not exposed to any risk of loss ourselves and not involved in organising it”.

Mayor Mark Foster, who chairs the council, suggested: “The intention would have been to do it in that direction, with a supplier providing the service for us.”

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Town councillor Madeline Russell acknowledged: “It’s a shame about this year, as has been said. But let’s make sure it happens next year.”

Town councillor Duncan Strachan agreed, stating: “It’s clearly impractical to even consider it for this year now, disappointing though it might be.

“I hope councillor North’s points will be included in the future report when that goes to the town centre management committee because it’s the way to do this. It means there’s no risk to the council or the council taxpayer.”

Councillors unanimously agreed to defer providing an ice rink until next year and for a suitable strategy to be considered by the committee in February.