Ice rink backlash as families protest

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Parents and families angered by the closure of an ice rink used by their children have hit back with a fresh attempt to keep the building open.

This week the owners of Jubilee Ice Arena in Cleveleys revealed the building is to close on Sunday.

Blackpool Council were blamed for allowing the opening of a rival ice rink, Fylde Coast Ice Arena in Bispham, which has had an impact on business.

And now parents and those relatives who use the venue have launched their own fightback, encouraging Wyre residents to sign a petition to keep the site open.

It is hoped a petition to Wyre Council will encourage the authority to step in and keep the building open, as well as show the strength of feeling from residents about retaining the facility as an ice rink in the future.

Carol Stanbridge, of Heathfield Road, Fleetwood, called the closure of the ice arena “absolutely disgusting” and said around 250 people had signed the petition so far.

The 56-year-old added: “We have more than 200 children doing various levels of ice skating and to have it shut is ridiculous.

“The nearest ice arena now is Bispham or Blackpool.

“It is just sad. The ice coaches have such a rapport with the kids. My seven-year-old granddaughter Madeline has just completed her Level 7 in ice skating – what is she going to do now?”

Steph Corsbie, of Cleveleys, whose seven-year-old son attends figure skating at the venue, said all the parents were “gutted” about the closure.

She added: “A lot of children – at least 20 – have been rehearsing for a Christmas show, which will now not take place.

“We are just trying to see how many people will be willing to sign the petition and keep the building open.

“If we get a lot of support, it strengthens the case for someone to come in and take over.

“We have been going on the streets asking people to sign.

“We just want someone to come in and take over the building.”

The Gazette revealed on Wednesday the North Promenade-based ice arena was due to close this week, with 16 staff set to lose their jobs.

Jubilee Ice Arena director Mehdi Afshar told The Gazette he blamed Blackpool Council for the closure, after the authority approved planning permission for a rival ice rink – Fylde Coast Ice Arena in Bispham – three weeks ago.

He said the council should take “full responsibility” for the closure, adding the opening of a similar business would “affect us”.

But David Owen, chairman of Blackpool Council’s planning committee, said: “The planning committee must determine planning applications based on the merits of the scheme and the potential impacts of the development on the surrounding area, the planning policy of the council, taking all material considerations into account.

“The committee cannot resist applications on the basis of commercial competition. The planning system exists to ensure the appropriate use of land and not to protect private business interests.”

He added competiton was vital to create “a healthy and robust economy” but admitted he was “saddened” to hear people had lost their jobs.