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Great Yarmouth set to spend £400,000 on its own ice rink

PUBLISHED: 14:26 12 September 2017 | UPDATED: 14:26 12 September 2017

Christmas lights switch on in the Market Place, Great Yarmouth.
The Ice Rink.

November 2015.

Picture: James Bass

Christmas lights switch on in the Market Place, Great Yarmouth. The Ice Rink. November 2015. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2015

Can Great Yarmouth afford to splash out £400,000 on its own ice rink?

That is the question that will be debated at a special meeting of the full council on October 12.

It comes as the town’s powerful economic development committee voted eight to five in favour of buying a rink on Monday.

Because of the sums involved and the magnitude of the issue the final decision will be made by all 39 council members and depends on what officers find when they drill down into the costs.

Conservative councillor Charles Reynolds said members were looking at the prospect of hosting the attraction year after year.

According to initial figures the cost of buying and running it over five years exceeds £400,000.

Mr Reynolds said: “If we are going to do this event each year buying the rink is the best option. The whole question is whether we do it or not.

“My view is that it is a lot of money, but we are doing everything we can to enliven the town centre and Market Place.

“My feelings are that the only time we ever did that was at Christmas two years ago.

“The footfall increase was quite incredible and it brought a real feel-good factor.”

However, Labour’s Trevor Wainwright tagged the proposal “a huge waste of money.”

He said: “It is complete nonsense as far as I am concerned when people are queueing up for food banks and we can find half a million pounds for a project that lasts 43 days.

“Councils do not run ice rinks. It is not what councils are there for. If it wasn’t going to cost tax payers any money then fine. But last year everyone that used it was subsidised by £13.”

The purchase price of a rink would be £181,125.

Over five years it would cost some £564,067 if it were hired and £386,458 if the council owned it plus the purchase cost.

Labour councillor Sylvia Pratt who represents the Magdalen Ward in Gorleston said she was “definitely against” it.

In 2015/2016 a temporary ice rink was widely hailed as a boost to the town centre, but cost over £100,000. Many said it made the Market Place more magical and created a buzz. However, others said the cost could not be justified.

In September last year the committee voted seven against and six for staging the ice rink, saying that although feedback was positive it was too expensive.

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