A city councilman is pushing for an ice rink by the sea.
Independent Bridget Fishleigh is hoping to garner support for the plan, which could bring money to City Council, at a meeting next week.
The rink would be built and operated by a private company under a five-year contract, reminiscent of the Royal Pavilion rink at Christmas and the temporary Brighton Wheel.
She will ask colleagues at a Brighton and Hove City Council general meeting to “do whatever it takes” to bring a privately run ice rink to the area.
The site she has in mind is between the King Alfred Leisure Center and the Kingsway to the Sea stretch of the Hove seafront, where a £13million redevelopment is planned. It is currently the roof of a run down bowling alley.
Cllr Bridget Fishleigh
It comes weeks after she quizzed Green Council leader Phélim Mac Cafferty at another meeting about the idea.
She said that in Bristol a new ice rink operated by Planet Ice draws 700 people a day but the operator has received “no encouragement” to come to Brighton and Hove.
Cllr Fishleigh said: “No one is asking the council to build an ice rink so officials who are not experts on ice rink business models don’t have to make excuses as to why residents can’t have one.
“The closest rinks are in Guildford, Streatham and Gosport.
“Why do officials treat an ice rink as a local sporting facility, like a swimming pool or tennis courts, rather than as a tourist attraction and destination that has a much broader target audience and catchment area?”
Cllr Mac Cafferty had concerns about the financial viability of an ice rink, saying it would cost at least £10million and have “high energy consumption”.
He said this was “contrary to the Council’s priorities on the climate agenda”, although there were no figures on how many people travel by transport and how far to ice rinks elsewhere.
Cllr Mac Cafferty said: “If you don’t have a funder for an ice rink, you face similar challenges as you would with a swimming pool.
“There is a profitability gap because an ice rink doesn’t pay for itself.
“Then you need to talk about how you’re closing that profitability gap.
“For that reason, like with the King Alfred, there’s always been very extensive living elements that allow you to pay for or subsidize the swimming pool element with things that will have a higher residual value.”
Cllr Fishleigh cited the council’s sports investment plan, which says an ice rink requires 30 per cent of the population to be under the age of 24 to be profitable.
This is the case, she said. The first census results last year showed that the under-24s made up just over 30 per cent of the population in Brighton and Hove.
Independent Councilor Peter Atkinson is expected to support Councilor Fishleigh at next week’s council meeting.
He said he used to go to the old ice rink on West Street in Brighton.
Cllr Atkinson said: “I remember the days of the Brighton Tigers and the ice rink at the end of West Street.
“It was an incredibly popular venue for all ages – fun and great exercise.
“I really hope we can bring an ice rink back to Brighton and Hove.”
The West Street ice rink, home of the Brighton Tigers ice hockey team, closed in 1965 and its replacement on the corner of King’s Road closed in 1972.
Another ice rink in Queen Square in the city center closed in 2003.
In 2009, the Conservative Council agreed to sell the Queen Square site for a 150-year term. It is now a hotel.
Activists have campaigned for years for a new ice rink in Brighton and Hove, and some joined Planet Ice to meet Green Councilor Martin Osborne and a senior council official, Donna Chisholm, in April to discuss the potential of a year-round ice rink.
Last July, ice rink activist Emma Andrews asked the Council’s Committee on Tourism, Equality, Communities and Culture to consider a temporary ice rink on unused land west of the King Alfred.
But, she said, council officials disagreed with the term “vacant space” because the site was the “roof” of the vacant and aging former bowling alley.
https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/20278070.brighton-hove-ice-rink-plan/?ref=rss Plan of Brighton and Hove ice rink