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Iconic ice rink fears

Uncertain future due to rising energy costs

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By Euan Maxwell
Annan and Eskdale
Iconic ice rink fears
ON THE BRINK . . . Lockerbie Ice Rink Management Group member Rae Graham, chairman Duncan Gracie and Richard Smith

FEARS have been raised about the future of Lockerbie Ice Rink due to soaring energy costs.

The Lockerbie Ice Rink Management Group warn the famous sports facility, at the town’s Glasgow Road, is in a “perilous state” because of the considerable rise in energy costs and without the urgent support from the government/government bodies is in real danger of going out of business in the next 12 to 18 months.

The independently run rink is expected to see energy costs increase annually by a whopping 200 per cent, which equates to an additional £110,598.

And the rink’s committee has warned that without receiving help from outside sources, the costs are simply “unsustainable”.

Chairman of the group, Duncan Gracie, said: “The considerable rise in energy costs has left many businesses and independently run sports facilities struggling.

“The impact of this is far greater for ice rinks due to the vast amount of power needed to run the plant which makes and maintains the ice for curling and skating.

“For an independently run charitable ice rink like Lockerbie, these costs are unsustainable without receiving support from outside sources.

“It would be a devastating blow to the town and surrounding area if Lockerbie Ice Rink was to cease trading.”

The arena is completely reliant on the income from weekly curling and skating sessions to stay afloat.

And Mr Gracie states that the group has been “working tirelessly” behind the scenes to identify savings and ways to generate additional income.

An energy survey and report was held earlier this year, through funding from South of Scotland Enterprises (SOSE), and the rink is hoping to carry out some of the recommended works this year.

ICONIC . . . Lockerbie Ice Rink

The group has been working with SOSE and their experts to identify further energy savings, and are grateful for their support.

Mr Gracie added: “We have explored a number of funding sources and had an energy survey carried out on the ice rink building, which has recommended some energy efficiency improvements that can be made.

“The savings we have identified will go a small way to covering our additional costs.

“However, the reality is that the future of ice rinks in Scotland, more so independently run ice rinks like Lockerbie, are in a perilous state, and without the urgent support from the government/government bodies, are in real danger of going out of business in the next 12-18 months.

“There are only so many cost-cutting measures and fee increases that we can implement before impacting users’ experiences.

“And with the increased cost of living, we are expecting to lose many members over the coming year.”

The history and achievements of Lockerbie Ice Rink is unrivalled in Scotland.

The rink has produced silver and bronze Olympic medallists; multiple World, European and Scottish champions both at junior and senior levels.

Thousands of skaters descend on the ice rink every season, from Dumfries and Galloway and surrounding regions such as Cumbria and Lancashire.

And away from winter sports, the ice rink played a vital role during the Lockerbie Air Disaster in 1988.

In addition to this, it is a social hub for the young, old and disabled, as well as a health and wellbeing facility.

Mr Gracie added: “The ice rink is a key part of Lockerbie’s community that the townsfolk of Lockerbie are proud to be associated with.

“With the increased energy costs, there is no doubt that next season will be the most challenging season the ice rink has faced. But with the continued support of ice rink users and the drive of the ice rink management group and staff, we can meet these challenges head on.

“Last season our skating sessions were well attended and a huge success, and we would like to maintain this through next season.

“The recent Olympic success by Team GB provides a great opportunity to inspire new curlers to try their hand at the sport.

“And there is no better place to try this than at Lockerbie Ice Rink, home of Olympic and world medallists.

“The ice rink also recently played host to a large wedding, and we are keen to promote our fully accessible space for private functions and events.”

The Scottish Ice Rink Association, on behalf of all the ice rinks, is taking forward a motion to the government on the serious position ice rinks face.

However, separately to this, Lockerbie’s rink felt it was of the “utmost importance” to lobby their local MPs, MSPs and councillors for support.

ON THE BRINK . . . Lockerbie Ice Rink Management Group members Richard Smith and Rae Graham

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