Ice rink in Wiltshire? No! Kit Campbell's Secret Scottish report condemns West Wiltshire to not having an ice rink.
Swindon Link Centre ice rink
There is no ice rink in Wiltshire. But there used to be an ice rink in Wiltshire - the Link Centre in Swindon, which was opened in 1985. But Swindon is no longer in Wiltshire it is a Unitary Authority and has been since the 1990's. When Swindon became a separate authority (why?) the new council was free to offer a discount for Swindon residents who want to use sporting facilities in Swindon. Whilst this seems to be quite reasonable for Swindon ratepayers, there is another issue. What if similar facilities are not available in the adjoining counties?
The location of the Link Centre ice rink
The unitary authority of swindon is situated in the North-Eastern corner of Wiltshire. It is also next to Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, and very close to West Berkshire. There are no ice rinks in the surrounding counties; except for Oxfordshire, which has an ice rink in the city of Oxford.
However, even for residents of Oxfordshire there are many who live quite close to Swindon's Link Centre Ice rink and a long journey by car or public transport to Oxford Ice Rink is not only a waste of time but a waste of precious fuel. Those residents who live close to Swindon but in other counties now have to pay more to access the facilities at the Swindon Link Centre Ice rink since the introduction of the Swindon Card. The Swindon Card is regarded by many as the "Swindle Card" as it purports to offer a discount to Swindon card holders but when it was introduced it just charged "outsiders" over two pounds more whilst charging Swindon residents over a pound more than most other national ice rinks! The increase in admission prices had no justification in the rise in the retail index or the cost of living. Commercial rinks were not charging more, in fact they were charging less!
The Swindon Link Centre was funded not just by Swindon but by other national bodies so why is Swindon allowed to discriminate against those who live in surrounding counties who do not have an ice rink? (I have been told that this is not true) If we consider the population of the neighbouring counties we have a population of over two million people who have access to just two ice rinks! Quite apart from the issue of Wiltshire residents having to pay extra to use the Link Centre Ice Rink why isn't there an ice rink in West Wiltshire? Geographically, it is the obvious choice.
Wiltshire council's Lack of consultation over sporting facilities
What really annoys me is that I have discovered a report prepared by Kit Campbell Associates in Edinburgh of all places (who was commissioned by West Wiltshire District Council, for how much?) which has as a conclusion that there is no demand for an ice rink in West Wiltshire! Were the people who live in Wiltshire informed of this survey and invited to take part? No! I live in Wiltshire and I have never heard of it, so I doubt whether other residents had an opportunity to contribute to this survey either. So what validity has this report In relation to a demand for ice skating? In my opinion none!
Bath and North East Somerset needs an ice rink as at present there is only Bristol (soon to be closed), Swindon or Oxford ice rinks. But Bath has blown all its funds on a tarted up Bath spa for rich locals and the occasional holiday maker to wallow in at the expense of the ratepayer. So surely, an ice rink in West Wiltshire would be very welcome, especially as we we won't get one in Bath.
As a retired teacher (and a keen ice skater) who has taught in almost 50 schools in Bath and North East Somerset, Wiltshire, Somerset, Bristol and South Gloustershire I have asked children in most of the schools in which I have taught about what sporting facilities they would like to have. Ice skating was high on the list - including a decent sized swimming pool.
No! Kit Campbell and his Associates needs to justify what they "found". Well, need to backup their findings with data that support their case. And one may ask why such a survey needed to be undertaken anyway? Surely, West Wiltshire doesn't need to spend money on commissioning reports on providing sports facilities from a company that resides in Edinburgh? How on Earth do these people have any idea of what we want? And what has Kit Campbell and Associates done to sustain Scottish ice rinks? West Wiltshire district council has gone, being absorbed into Wiltshire but the need is still there. With a growing concern for our youngsters becoming overweight and even obese surely an increase in sporting facilities would be most welcome?
Trowbridge's lack of sporting facilities
Any local person would know that Trowbridge has plenty of development space to provide a leisure centre. This leisure centre should include an Ice rink and a swimming pool (50 metre pool with proper diving facilities) and provision for other sports. Trowbridge is the county town of Wiltshire and a leisure centre may be accessed by those who live in several towns which are close by, including those located in Bath and North East Somerset and Somerset. However the reality is that Trowbridge is faced with a town centre that is dominated by a large area of demolished buildings and derelict land equivalent to a Worls War Two bomb site that should be utilised for the benefit of residents.
All that seems to be built in Trowbridge is new shops including supermarkets. I suppose that's becuase there is money to made in type of development
I am quite happy to produce a report showing how Wiltshire and neighbouring counties could benefit from a new leisure centre which has an ice rink and swimming pool as its core attraction. And I am prepared to do it for nothing, well for a tenth of the cost of the report prepared by Kit Campbell. Just give me a weekend's notice. Alternatively, why not ask a few local boys and girls?
(updated June 2012)