Rescue deal drawn up to stop ice rink from plunging into cold storage

a RESCUE deal is being lined up that could save the Capital’s festive ice rink from the axe.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 25th October 2011, 12:34 pm

The Evening News revealed last week that the future of the famous ice rink in Princes Street Gardens was in doubt because of concerns from its operator about “significant” losses it ran up last year.

But it has now emerged that last-ditch attempts are taking place to protect the operator from any further losses.

The city council is considering putting in more public money to help meet the costs of operating the rink.

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It is also understood that the boss of a leading hotel chain has indicated that the hotel industry could step in and make a contribution towards the running costs.

Councillor Steve Cardownie, the city’s festivals and events champion, said: “Discussions are ongoing but we believe that the ice rink is part of the city scape for the winter festivals and we are doing everything we can to ensure that there is an ice rink there for the forthcoming Edinburgh Sparkles celebrations.”

It is understood that the interest comes from a well-known city hotelier who wants the sector to contribute towards making the ice rink happen, although full discussions have not yet taken place.

The UK’s biggest open-air rink has become the heart of the city’s Winter Wonderland since it first came to Princes Street Gardens in 1998.

AJA Events, an Edinburgh-based firm, took over the operation of the rink for the first time last year, but it is understood that it suffered a loss in the region of £60,000, partially because of the impact of the severe winter weather.

The company, which charges £9 for adults to use the rink, £8 for children over the age of five and £5.50 for under-fives, had indicated that it was ready to pull out of an agreement to run the ice rink this year.

Cllr Cardownie said: “There is room for optimism that we will be able to provide an ice rink this year because so many people are interested in ensuring it takes place.

“There are too many influential people that want to see this happen for it to be allowed to fail and I am optimistic that it will be able to happen.”

The city council already provides £197,384 of events funding for Edinburgh’s Christmas programme, run by Durham-based producer She’s Gott It, which then sub-leases the ice rink contract.

Nickie Gott, managing director of She’s Gott It, said: “It is a very welcome part of the programme but there are many other aspects of the programme that I believe are as good and enjoyable to tourists and Edinburgh residents.

“The visitor gets a very good experience from everything else we have to offer and there are some really exciting things in the pipeline for this year.

“It is a nice part of the programme but I do think the programme has a lot to offer.

“It would be nice to think that it will be there again but we will have to wait and see.”

Nobody at AJA Events was available to comment, although its website for Edinburgh’s Ice Rink does still say the ice rink will operate from November 24 this year until January 3.