Great Yarmouth ice rink could make a comeback at Christmas

Christmas lights switch on in the Market Place, Great Yarmouth.
The Ice Rink.
November 2015.

Christmas lights switch on in the Market Place, Great Yarmouth. The Ice Rink. November 2015. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

Cold, hard, economic facts look set to decide whether the town centre ice-rink returns to Great Yarmouth this winter.

Christmas lights switch on in the Market Place, Great Yarmouth.
The Ice Rink.
November 2015.
Pictu

Christmas lights switch on in the Market Place, Great Yarmouth. The Ice Rink. November 2015. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2015

Councillors are set to pore over the numbers next week as they look again at whether to bring it back, or let it slide.

In 2015/2016 a temporary ice-rink helped turn the town into a winter wonderland.

As well as being widely hailed as boosting footfall, feedback from local people was largely positive - although some worried it was beyond the pocket of many residents who relied on foodbanks.

In the end the council decided it was too expensive and last Christmas relied on a string of smaller festive-themed events.

On Monday members of the economic development committee are meeting to discuss its merits once more.

A report to members states that the ice rink provided a 'bold headline statement' that got people talking about and visiting the town centre during its 44 days of opening from November 20 to January 3.

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On some nights footfall was said to be up as much as 25pc and there was said to be 'a clear buzz.'

However, although 11,300 tickets were sold it still cost the council a significant £111,927.

Figures produced for the coming season estimate that hiring a rink for 47 days from November 17 to January 3 would land the council with a bill for £111,356, once costs like lighting, sound, staff, and insurance had been taken into account.

The figure is based on a daily average usage of 240, with an adult paying £10, a child £7.50 and a family of four £30 - up from £6, £5, and £26.50 for five, two years ago.

Officers have also scoped out the figures for buying a rink for £181,125 - funded by borrowing or a one-off payment from reserves.

The report notes that neither option produces a break-even position for the authority, unless ticket sales were to double.

It states: 'It is therefore for the members to consider whether or not they would want to see a headline event of similar magnitude planned for 2017...

'Members should take into account the overall projected budget deficit for the council from 2018/19 which currently assumes no growth in the revenue position.'

In September last year the decision to not bring it back was made by just one vote.

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