July 26 2014 Latest news:
Jane Ball, News Editor
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Romford’s ice skaters and hockey team may be forced to use rinks miles out of the borough in the wake of major redevelopment plans by Havering Council.
The council is to build a state-of-the-art leisure centre at Romford Ice Arena, in Rom Valley Way.
But it means hundreds of skaters will have to find a new home during construction – likely to take three years.
Council officers have approached rink bosses in Chelmsford, Essex, Alexandra Palace, north London, and Lee Valley, east London, to negotiate usage.
But there are fears the distance – in some cases 30 miles - will be unworkable.
Mum Julie Cooke, whose six-year-old daughter Amy trains four times a week at the rink, said: “Training starts at 6am and adding a minimum 45 minute commute to that, as well as travel costs, will mean the majority of skaters will not be able to continue.”
She added: “In the long term we can’t wait for a brand new shiny rink, but by the time it’s built there won’t be any more kids left skating.”
The current site is home to Romford Ice Skating Club, which trains around 180 figure skaters, as well as 300 children and adults enrolled in the National Learn to Skate Programme.
It is also home to the Romford Raiders Ice Hockey Team, and their juniors, and is used by schools and clubs, as well as the public.
Stella Sawyer, vice chairman of the skating club and whose daughter Jessica, 12, has been skating since she was six, said: “I feel so sad for the children, for many of them it’s their lives. The future of the club could be thrown in doubt because we’ll find it hard to operate at different venues.”
A letter from the council to users said there was no money to fund a temporary rink in the borough, but there was the possibility others might invest in a facility.
The new leisure centre is to include a 25m pool; sauna and steam rooms; a health and fitness studio; a gym; a dance studio; and a café and bar.