Operators shun chance to run ice rink

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There will not be an ice rink in Canterbury’s Dane John Gardens this Christmas after potential operators decided not to pursue the opportunity.

While a number of companies expressed an interest in running a rink, none completed the tender process.

Among the reasons given were the need for a substantial subsidy from the council or a large reduction in hire fees, the desire for a different venue, a request for a larger footprint in the Dane John Gardens, the hope of closing much later at night and permission for more concessions selling food and drink.

To fully consider these proposals, gather the views of those affected and go out to tender once more meant the timetable to deliver a high-quality and enjoyable experience in time for Christmas would have been too tight and too risky.

Cllr Neil Baker, Chairman of Canterbury City Council’s Community Committee, said: “We know people will be bitterly disappointed but throughout this process it was important an ice rink did not cost council taxpayers money.

“If we had given a subsidy, residents would end up paying twice. Once through their council tax bills even if they didn’t don a pair of ice skates and then again if they wanted to practice their twists, turns and spins. In the meantime, the provider would be making a profit.

“We also had to be mindful of the needs of the residents and other businesses in the area and protect their interests too.

“Because of the level of interest when we tried to get an ice rink up and running last year, we know one would be popular so we will continue to investigate options for Christmas 2019 having listened to the feedback from potential operators.”

The tender said the successful company would have to pay a fixed fee to hire the Dane John Gardens and to cover the costs of extra waste collections, the extra cleaning of public toilets that would be needed, the cost of extra electricity and water.

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