Many of the Borough’s leisure and sporting facilities are situated in Basingstoke, yet they are often supported and funded by Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council which covers the Whitchurch area and to whom local residents pay their Council Tax bills.
These facilities are there for Whitchurch residents as well.
A campaign to secure the continuity of an ice rink in Basingstoke has been underway for over a year now.
A Whitchurch resident provides an update:
The issue that is being faced is that the developers that have been appointed to redevelop the leisure park (New River) have now agreed to include a new ice rink, but that new facility is between 8 to 10 years from opening its doors. The leaseholders of the current ice rink (Planet Ice) have quoted that the current rink has a very maximum of 2 years left as a useable facility, the issue facing the rink is a permafrost problem – the ice has penetrated the chalk subsoil below and, for a few years now it has been pushing outwards causing structural damage internally.
This has meant that all the stands, changing rooms, toilets and shop on one side of the ice rink had to be shut and boarded off about 18 months ago.
The risk is that the pipework under the ice is being damaged by this movement of the ice, so in theory, it could shut tomorrow if the remaining cooling pipes break.A group was set up consisting of a representative of different ice rink users – Hockey players, Junior hockey parents, Bison supporters, Figure skaters and Leisure skaters – and this group (Ice Users Forum) have been engaging with New River, Planet Ice and Basingstoke Council.
Because of this we have secured a guarantee from New River that a new rink will be part of the redevelopment and also had confirmation from Planet Ice that they would build a temporary rink to bridge the gap between the current rink shutting and the new one opening its doors.But Planet Ice cannot build this rink without the support of Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council – they need to assign land for this to take place.
The kind of temporary ice rink we are talking about is not a Christmas market kind of ice rink, we need something to support all the different uses the current rink has and allows the Basingstoke Bison to continue with the current league they play in.
This kind of temp rink has been built by Planet Ice before to bridge the gap between the old Cardiff arena shutting and the new one opening, and this is not a structure that goes up in a few weeks, this can be 8 to 16 months to be ready to open.
And this is the problem, BDBC are dragging their feet to assign some land, if we don’t secure the continuity of ice in Basingstoke, there is a risk that the new development will then not include a rink, and a “leisure” park will quickly become another retail park instead.
Ice users and members of the Ice Users Forum have now been present to ask questions at three Council meetings and STILL no commitments are being made by BDBC.
We (Ice Users Forum) need to raise more awareness of the potential loss of an ice rink in Basingstoke if BDBC do not commit to the land needed for the temporary rink and allow Planet Ice the time to build the temporary rink before the current one shuts its doors for the last time.
Please follow to keep up to date and offer help if you can to spread the word by following the Facebook page:
Both pages are a useful source of information if you are looking to understand the issue in more detail.
One youngster’s views: