Skaters vow to fight on to keep Planet Ice alive

Exterior, Leisure World, Jarman Park, Hemel Hempstead.
Exterior, Leisure World, Jarman Park, Hemel Hempstead.

A campaign has been mounted to save Hemel Hempstead’s ice rink, which is due to close its doors at the end of this month.

It was announced little more than a week ago that Planet Ice is to shut, but an online campaign by users of the Jarman Park facility to force a rethink is already under way.

Daniel du Gard, who skates at Planet Ice weekly, said: “This extremely disappointing decision will leave skaters and the local community without their treasured sporting facility within Hertfordshire and there are only 37 operational ice rinks remaining within the UK. This is a major blow to local and national ice skating and British sport.

“The closure will affect hundreds of figure skaters along with Skate UK members and the general public who use the rink.”

A meeting held on Sunday saw hundreds of concerned skaters and their families turn out and a Facebook page called Save Hemel Ice Rink has already attracted 836 members.

But Capital and Regional says the ice rink is not economically viable and is not part of redevelopment plans approved by Dacorum Borough Council.

The Gazette has learned that the whole Leisure World complex is to be sold by site owners Capital and Regional to the Tesco pension scheme.

Leader of the council Andrew Williams said: “Operators were not willing to take the ice rink on as it was simply not making money, but we didn’t want the site to sit empty and unused. There was really no alternative but to lift the covenant which tied the land use to the ice rink.

“The lease was signed nearly 20 years ago when leisure provision was very different, and contains a condition that we shouldn’t hold back landlord consent as long as we were satisfied with their reasons for development.

“We are confident that Capital and Regional have made the correct commercial decision.”

A Capital and Regional spokesman said: “We have worked hard to find alternative uses for this site and strongly believe that the completed development will make a significant contribution to the leisure facilities available to the wider community in Hemel Hempstead.”