Plans for skating rink at Biggleswade’s Christmas lights switch-on may be put on ice for another year

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Budgetary funding concerns set to postpone idea for 12 months, meeting told

Plans for a seasonal skating rink as part of the winter scenery at Biggleswade’s Christmas lights switch-on may be put on ice for another year.

Further talks were due to be held about whether to fund the facility this year, but town council officers are “regrettably” recommending not to include it.

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Funding such an ice rink could lead to a small financial loss, according to a report to the council’s town centre management committee.

A previous Biggleswade Christmas Lights Switch On. Photo: June Essex.A previous Biggleswade Christmas Lights Switch On. Photo: June Essex.
A previous Biggleswade Christmas Lights Switch On. Photo: June Essex.

“There was a desire expressed to include a synthetic ice rink,” said the report. “Officers have contacted the same three suppliers again to source fresh quotes.

“Regrettably, as there’s no budget for the ice rink, officers would advise against proceeding with the idea and instead consider it next year.”

Quotes in the report represented a three-day hire period (Friday to Sunday) on a weekend in November or December with staffing and insurance included, explained the report.

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A £10 ticket cost for 30-minute slots with a capacity of 35 skaters was envisaged, operating for eight hours on each of the three days.

Deputy mayor Mark Knight admitted to being “a little frustrated”, saying: “Funding diversions to other budgets were made and we were assured there was sufficient finance.

“Now officers are saying there’s not enough money for an ice rink, which councillors have been talking about. That feels slightly inconsistent.

“If the projected income is £4,320 and the cost is £4,500, that would be a loss of £180. Based on the worst case being £180 loss, I think it’s worth a flyer.”

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Just over 30 traders are expected to attend, added the report. “This includes a rough split of eight arts and crafts, ten food, five drink, and seven local community group and charity stalls.

“Officers were scheduled to meet with an electrician commissioned to work on the lights switch-on and to determine positioning of traders, which will involve using Station Road to create more space.”

Town councillor Duncan Strachan referred to Station Road, asking: “Have we got a road closure order for it and have we agreed to the ice rink?

“I’m unsure what the report is saying and whether we’ve a plan for the actual event. This has plenty of ideas in it and I notice all the aspirations.

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“But I don’t see anything that’s clear around the timetable or anything else, so it’s a concern about what happens on the day.

“It doesn’t mention anything about the Christmas lights switch-on. It would be helpful to have a more detailed update, with what arrangements there are for the switch-on, whether it’s school or adult choirs and so on.”

Confirming the road closure order has been agreed, Mr Lord replied: “The ice rink was mentioned in a previous report as something potentially we could do.

“But it wasn’t included in the recommendations of the suppliers with which we proceed. The chairman wanted to see the figures, which are in this report.

“Officers have recommended not to proceed on the basis of no budget. That’s why it’s in this report to note and not consider. I can share the details of the traders and the line-up with councillors.”

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