The ice rink at Plymouth Pavilions arena is set to officially close its doors on January 1st 2023.
The main reason which has been given for the closure is the increasing cost of living and the energy crisis which has affected many businesses. However, the ice rink was also part of a 10-year contract, which hadn’t been extended, meaning there was no obligation to keep it going.
The official statement given by the Pavilions was as follows:
“Plymouth Pavilions is a high energy user and the increase in energy costs has turned the operation of the ice rink from a non-commercial business into one which is wholly unsustainable, and which had the potential to threaten the viability of the entire venue if we did not take action.”
The rink currently employs 29 permanent and 86 casual staff, and they are currently helping those who are permanently employed who will be affected by the rink closure.
The ice rink opened 30 years ago, making the decision for Sarah Phillips the CEO, to be a “difficult one.” But the fact that the rink would’ve faced a “five-fold increase,” in running costs when government support ends in March, formed part of the decision.
Debbie Brinton, a committee member from Plymouth Ice Skating Club, who has two daughters that attend the club every week, was surprised to hear the news.
She mentions how the club is there to “provide inclusiveness for everyone,” with a broad age range of people that attend, from three years old up to 65. The club relies on people coming along each week who would skate on a normal session, and it also supports a school for children with challenges.
Even though Debbie talks about how “we kind of knew it was going to happen,” she explains that there were talks about a new rink being built in Plymouth as a replacement. However, this has not yet happened and relies upon petitions being signed by a large number of people. Debbie admits that the likelihood of a new rink feels unlikely, but remains positive about the future.
Their solution for now is to use Eden Project’s ice rink during the winter months, otherwise it is Bristol which is over two hours away.
The skaters who attend the club were very upset when they first heard the news, and Debbie mentions how everyone was “trying to get on with their normal routine.” But after being told they were losing the rink, and a long journey to Bristol would mean waking up at 3.30 in the morning, it was difficult to come to terms with. Due to this, some members have had to leave the club, because of the cost of fuel.
This being said, the Ice Skating Club’s goal is to “try and keep this group of adults and children together,” with a lot of the people that attend the club who skate simply “for the love of the sport.” Debbie sympathises with the owner due to the extortionate running costs, explaining that even if the new ice rink had been built in 2020, she doesn’t think it would’ve survived either. Due to dated plans and the lack of new technology.
Looking forward, Debbie believes that maybe “losing the rink will make way for something better,” with everyone at the club hopeful for a new ice rink in Plymouth someday.