Campaigners striving to keep Jarman Park’s Planet Ice open have got their fingers crossed for a stay of execution.
The Save Hemel Ice Rink group are waiting to hear from current site operators Capital and Regional on whether the venue can stay open longer than its Sunday, November 3 closing date.
Spokesman for Capital and Regional Kathleen MacMillan could not shed anymore light on the situation at this stage but told the Gazette: “We are working up a statement but it’s not ready yet. Once we have something to share I will send it to you but we have nothing more to say than what you have at the moment.”
The nearest alternative ice rink is at Alexandra Palace and a temporary rink is due to be opened shortly at Milton Keynes while work is carried out to create a permanent facility in the town.
In a bid to save the Hemel Hempstead venue from closure campaigners – led by ice skating teacher Steven Da Costa – are planning a protest march through the town centre on Friday afternoon and people are being encouraged to join the stand.
The protest will start outside Debenhams at around 1.30pm and march along Marlowes finishing outside the Civic Centre at about 3pm.
A petition with more than 8,000 signatures including people from across Herts that calls for the ice rink to be saved has already been handed in to Dacorum Borough Council.
The rink has been written off as not economically viable by the site owners who are in the process of selling the Jarman Park complex to the Tesco pension scheme. But campaigners believe the rink could be successful if given a spruce up and properly advertised to the public.
Steven, who during peak times runs classes with up to 100 people and has a portfolio of around 45 private skaters with clients who travel from places such as Finchley and Dunstable to skate, said: “Jarman Park looks a complete disgrace. The site has detracted rapidly since the departure of Luminar.”
The nightclub operator closed the Lava and Ignite clubs at Leisure World back in 2011 after revealing they were losing money. Bars Jumpin Jaks and Hotshots have also since closed their doors.
A covenant that tied the use of the land to the ice rink has been lifted by the borough council to help get the much-awaited project moving.
Already approved plans will see the leisure location transformed into a family friendly destination with restaurants, bowling, a children’s play area and a gym under an ambitious £4 million redevelopment project.