Great Yarmouth’s Christmas ice rink set to return for 2017 after council vote

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

An ice rink looks set to return to Great Yarmouth this Christmas after councillors voted to spend nearly £100,000 to bring one to the Market Place.

In an at times frosty debate at the town hall on Thursday night, councillors on Great Yarmouth Borough Council discussed the issues surrounding the costs of bringing the attraction to the town centre.

In 2015 a rink was set up in the area known as the Market Square, but it did not return last years after councillors rejected it on cost grounds.

MORE: Councillors reject the return of Great Yarmouth's ice rink in 2016Conservative Barry Coleman, who brought the motion to the full council meeting, said footfall was significantly down last year as a result, and business owners he spoke to believed it was due to the rink not being there.

There was strong opposition to the proposals from the Labour group, with its leader Trevor Wainwright making an impassioned plea to councillors to consider the thousands of people in the borough relying on food banks to survive.

Labour councillor for Nelson ward, which is among the poorest 10pc of wards in the country, Michael Jeal said he would be 100pc behind the plans if the borough did not have people relying on food banks.

He added: 'People in my ward are having to go every day to a food bank to get food.'

The council leader and leader of the Tory group, Graham Plant, said it was not often that a borough council could bring a little bit of sunshine and joy to its residents.

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Ukip group leader Kay Grey voted in favour of the plans and apologised for not supporting the ice rink plan last year.

She added: 'The majority of the residents I have spoken to said they want it back.'

Adrian Myers, leader of the Tribune group, a newly formed political party, said that an increased footfall in the town centre does not necessarily equate to an increased spend by visitors to the town centre.

He and his only other councillor voted against the plan.

The cost of hiring the rink for the Christmas season would be around £90,000 to the council and would be funded by money set aside for the Town Centre Initiative.

This is almost £20,000 cheaper than the cost of hiring the rink in 2015, but councillors were told that more sponsors had pledged to put money towards the attraction this time around.