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Closure of Romford Ice Rink dominates Havering Community Questions session at Langtons, Hornchurch

12:00 30 March 2013

Maria Thompson

Maria Thompson

Archant

Ice was a hot topic at last night’s Community Questions session in Langtons – not the unseasonable weather, but the impending closure of Romford’s rink.

Angry parents and even one young skater were among 50 members of the public who visited Hornchurch to quiz council leader Cllr Michael White, Acting Chief Supt Tony Bennett of Havering Police, and Dr Aggarwal, chair of Havering’s CCG – the board of GPs that takes over healthcare commissioning on Monday.

Cllr White admitted the rink is likely to be demolished whether or not the “land swap” deal with Morrisons goes through because the existing building is “not fit for purpose”.

“That ice rink will close,” he said. “The only game in town is to re-provide it.”

But the council drew criticism for dragging its feet over the provision of a temporary rink. There is likely to be a two-year gap between the closure of the existing centre and the opening of the new rink and swimming pool in 2015.

With just three weeks to go, there has been no deal agreed to run a replacement rink, and no agreement to give Havering residents protected “ice time” at nearby centres.

“We offered to put up a building and supply it with electricity as long as the users’ community will run the building, because we as a council don’t run leisure facilities,” said Cllr White.

“At the moment all the organisations we’ve spoken to won’t do it because it’s not viable.”

But a member of the public said a nearby council had offered to step in and put up the money.

“Another council wants to help raise the money for the temporary rink because children from their borough use the ice rink,” she said. “But we’re still waiting for details of the site with the electricity. Until we get that information we can’t move forward.”

She also said she had called Lee Valley Ice Rink and Chelmsford Ice Rink and neither centre had heard of the plan to give Havering residents “ice time”.

But Cllr White dismissed the idea of another council’s involvement. “They shouldn’t be doing things in secret,” he said. “If they really want to help us, they should be making an approach to us.”

He added that his information was that Lee Valley and Chelmsford had been contacted.

During the session, residents also raised concerns about cycling in public parks, pedestrian access to Harold Wood polyclinic, car parking in Upminster town centre, and the difficulty of reporting crime in Havering.

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