AN IMPASSIONED plea has been sounded in a bid to save Moray’s only ice rink from closure.
Users of the rink in Elgin have urged councillors to safeguard its future at a crucial meeting next week.
With time running out to convert the ice rink refrigeration plant for safety reasons before a deadline at the end of this year, the individuals and clubs who use the rink have issued an 11th-hour plea to Moray Council.
‘Save Our Rink’ was the simple message from young skaters, curlers and ice hockey players who gathered outside the centre on Wednesday evening.
Graeme Summers, chairman of the Ice4All users group at the rink, admitted that "time is running out".
"Thousands of ice users from all over Moray and beyond use the ice rink several times a week. It is the only ice rink in Moray, and is incredibly popular among the general public as well as local elite sportspeople," he said.
"We will lose this flagship facility, and their sporting careers will be snuffed out".
The council subsidises the running costs of Moray Leisure Centre to the tune of around £500,000 each year, and extra investment will be needed to secure the future of the ice rink, either with a short-term or more permanent solution.
That could mean in excess of £50,000 for a ‘drop-in gas’ temporary solution which would extend the life of the rink by a number of years, or a complete replacement of the plant at a cost of up to £800,000, but which would attract up to 50% of the cost in funding from SportScotland.
The Moray Leisure Centre board has been working to find a solution, and chairman Drew Baillie is hoping for a positive outcome from next Wednesday’s special meeting of the council.
However, Ice4All remains concerned over the time it has taken to deal with an issue which was first flagged up to ice rink operators in 2001.
EU legislation will outlaw R22 gas, used in the refrigeration plant, by the end of this year, and Ice4All believes that Elgin is the last facility in the whole of the UK to address the issue.
The rink is home to national champions, international athletes and Olympic and Paralympic medallists.
For more on this story see this week's 'Northern Scot'