Activists battling to secure the future of their beloved ice rink have been told their campaign has made great progress, but they are not past the final hurdle yet.
At a full meeting of Dacorum Borough Council last night, the Save Hemel Ice Rink group submitted a petition with more than 9,000 signatures from people committed to keeping Jarman Park’s Planet Ice open.
Councillors praised the campaigners on prolonging the venue’s existence past its original D-day of November 3. The rink was given a three-week lifeline which, it was revealed in Hemel Hempstead’s Civic Centre during the meeting, has been extended further.
Council leader Andrew Williams said: “I am pleased to say we have brought Planet Ice and its owners together to discuss the future of the ice rink. It will remain open past that three-week extension, with the hope of establishing a long-term, refurbished future for the venue. This is great progress, and although we are not past the final hurdle yet, I am optimistic.”
Campaign leader and ice-skating coach Steven Da Costa said: “I would like to thank those who took the time to listen to and support our group to gain the security we now enjoy, pending a final decision.
“No one denies that Jarman Park needs developing, but why was the ice rink disregarded so easily? It is a sport venue and should be treated as such. It is a destination for winter sports as well as a leisure activity, a good way to keep fit and combat obesity. It can also keep young people off the streets, reducing crime.”
But Councillor Margaret Griffiths highlighted the rink’s failings, saying: “At the moment, if you get people going there in their droves now, they would never come back.
“I am being very honest, but it is sparsely used and we would need to see it refurbished before it is promoted.”
Talks between the group and Capital and Regional – who retain ownership until it is sold to the Tesco pension scheme – continue.