For as long as I can remember people have been asking for an ice rink in Crawley. It’s something we’ve long tried to find a way to deliver and every time the numbers haven’t stacked up right.
In drafting our manifesto preparing to regain control of the council in 2014, it came up again in policy discussions and while I was willing to commit to looking into the viability of an ice rink, I wasn’t willing to make a more substantial commitment for the simple reason that I didn’t know we could deliver it. In politics you only really have your principles and your word, and if you break either of them you’re left with nothing.
While going through the numbers quickly showed that a permanent ice rink wouldn’t stack up (the UK’s lack of interest in ice hockey making us a very different market from across the pond), each year since that election we’ve reviewed whether a temporary ice rink over Christmas would work and this year the answer came back: yes.
On Saturday we re-open Queens Square. Already the redevelopment has brought attracted new private investment to the Town Centre and in our rejuvenated square we hope to provide a further boost to retail through the footfall a temporary ice rink will generate. This is a trail run and, as with all trials, when we look back on the costs and the benefits it may be a one-time only thing, but whether it be for one year or for all the years to follow, we’ll have finally brought ice skating to Crawley.