Statement on the ice rink
The Community, Environment and Partnership Committee on Wednesday (17 March) discussed the latest proposal by Planet Ice, as the operators of the privately-owned rink. Due to the sensitive commercial and legal elements of the discussion, this was held in a private session with councillors and officers only.
Following feedback from the committee, there was no support for the proposal as it would require the council to put £1.4 million of public money at risk to fund a large percentage of the £2.2 million estimated cost of repairs, as identified in the reports commissioned by Planet Ice in summer 2020.
An annual amount of £50,000 being offered in return, with estimated financing costs, would mean in excess of 28 years to repay, with an expected life of the repairs of 15 to 20 years. There were concerns expressed by councillors about the security of the return of the money without it being conditional on a change to the lease structure between the council, Standard Securities and Planet Ice.
The borough council is the owner of the leisure park but Basingstoke ice rink is not a council-run facility. It was leased at no rent on a long-term basis in 2000. The lease requires the current landlord Standard Securities and operator Planet Ice to keep the building in good and substantial repair, otherwise the council can take legal action to seek to have repairs carried out.
The council has now given the companies a deadline of two weeks to come back with more realistic proposals and timescales for repairs to bring the matter to a conclusion.
Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Property Cllr John Izett said: “I know there is frustration about how long this has taken. The committee shares my support for keeping ice in Basingstoke for the future and keeping all of the options for doing that under consideration. Planet Ice and Standard Securities should not continue delaying repairs to the rink.
“The clear message to me from councillors on the committee was that they don't support investing public money into a private business without security or any proper return on that investment towards running our services, which is what Planet Ice is suggesting. As a council we are not in a position to hand over taxpayers’ money as what amounts to a subsidy to a commercial business that has been running the rink for 20 years and operates 14 ice rinks across the country.”