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Havering Council debates leisure centre plans as Cllr Jeff Tucker insists: ‘Heat from pool will melt ice rink’

PUBLISHED: 12:24 22 July 2013 | UPDATED: 12:24 22 July 2013

An artist's impression of how the competition pool in the new Romford leisure development will look

An artist's impression of how the competition pool in the new Romford leisure development will look

Archant

Temperatures were expected to run high at last week’s full council meeting, held just two days after three Tory councillors announced their defection to Ukip.

So it was perhaps unsurprising that talk in the chamber turned to melting ice.

But it was an Independent Residents’ Group councillor who came in for criticism – after insisting Romford’s new ice rink would come crashing down around the council’s feet if it were built.

In a speech administration councillors compared with Cassandra’s mythical prophecies of doom, Cllr Jeff Tucker (Rainham and Wennington) said heat from the swimming pool would melt the ice rink above it.

He also criticised the lack of parking provision, saying people would travel from all over Britain to visit the rink and could not be relied on to use public transport.

Finance boss Cllr Roger Ramsey slammed Cllr Tucker’s comments as “cynical, unreasonable and unfair”.

“Here we are, having entered into a binding legal agreement, with planning consent having been granted and decisions having been approved by the Mayor of London, [before] these doubts are raised,” he added.

And Cllr Rebecca Bennett (Tory, South Hornchurch) said the unusual design showed Havering Council was “innovative and forward thinking when it comes to planning applications”.

Several councillors tried to debunk Cllr Tucker’s concerns, saying the thickness of the rink floor and a heat exchange system made the design not only plausible but also efficient.

Cllr Roger Evans (Tory, Elm Park) mocked the suggestion the ice rink would melt and fall into the pool. “We have got a floor to prevent that happening,” he said.

“By Cllr Tucker’s logic, if we put the pool above the ice rink, the ice would float to the surface.”

But Cllr Keith Darvill came to the defence of the motion – although not Cllr Tucker himself – calling for publication of the advice informing the council’s decision to build the facility.

And he said skaters couldn’t rely on walking and cycling to the rink because of all the equipment they would have to carry.

Inevitably, though, the council’s amendment – which watered down Cllr Tucker’s proposal to state merely that Havering welcomed scrutiny – was passed as the substantive motion.

Curiously, it also deleted the word “viable” from the original motion that “this council welcomes all viable plans to improve leisure facilities throughout the borough”.

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