No current plans for ice rink to return to Chichester this year

Priory Park after the ice rink was dismantled
Priory Park after the ice rink was dismantled

The organisers of last year’s Christmas ice rink have no plans to return this year, Chichester district councillors have been told.

The news was shared by Adrian Moss (Lib Dem, Harbour Villages) at a meeting of the overview and scrutiny committee on Tuesday (September 10).

Members were considering a report which laid out the costs and benefits to the council of the rink, which was set up in Priory Park throughout the festive season.

Those costs included £6,992.70 and a ‘large number’ of officer hours to deal with complaints – while the benefits saw an extra 5,000 people use the pay & display car parks in December.

The meeting was told that the car parks brought in £25,000 more than the previous December, which officers said was ‘partly because of the ice rink’.

More than 19,000 people used the rink last year but, when asked if there were plans for it to return, officers said discussions with the contractor S3K Ltd had ‘fallen quiet’.

Mr Moss, who was chairing the meeting, said he had been consulted throughout the year about the issue, adding: “It isn’t, as now, going forward because the contractor didn’t want to go forward.”

The council received a total of £578 from S3K for planning work before the ice rink was set up, as well as £100 for an alcohol, entertainment and late night refreshment license.

It kept £190 of S3K’s £1,000 deposit to pay for work to restore the grass in the park after poor weather stopped some of the seed planted from taking hold.

Alan Sutton (Con, Fittleworth) said he was not happy with the costs incurred by the council or the low amount charged to S3K to hold the event.

He added: “I really think that if we’re going to do anything like this – if it ever does happen again – we need to be absolutely sure that the licence fee involved, the hiring fee involved, covers the cost.”

Officers acknowledged only a peppercorn rent had been charged but said that, if the ice rink returned, the charge would be higher.

Sarah Sharp (Green, Chichester South) shared concerns about communication between the council and residents before the ice rink was erected.

She said there was a ‘resounding feeling of sadness’ from some, adding: “They felt they weren’t consulted and their concerns weren’t taken seriously.”

While pointing out that the Friends of Priory Park had been consulted, officers said that, for future events, they were reviewing how they spoke with local councillors and residents.

Mr Moss added: “These sort of events do need to be encouraged in the district because it does bring footfall, it does bring people into the city and we should be encouraging that sort of activity.

“The decision we need to make as a council and the people of Chichester is is Priory Park the right location.”

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