PARENTS of children who are passionate about ice skating have asked councillors to ensure plans for a new water and leisure complex include a new ice rink.

On Tuesday, February 6 Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s decision-making cabinet approved a range of new services that could be provided.

As part of the project, the council is looking to explore whether there are options and opportunities for providing a new rink.

Plans for the rink's much-anticipated upgrade, initially announced in April last, have come to a standstill, reportedly because of a disagreement between leaseholder Standard Securities and Planet Ice, the rink's operator.

Planet Ice confirmed in April that the Basingstoke Bison ice hockey team would be forced to skip the 2023-24 season as a result of the upgrade programme.

READ MORE: Basingstoke ice rink future uncertain as upgrade plans stall

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During the meeting several parents of children who use the ice rink gave an emotional speech.

Sarah Dillow spoke on behalf of a number of the parents who love the ice rink. 

She said: "Our children ask us 'if the rink shuts where will we go?' What are we meant to tell them? The ice rink for all its faults gives them a focus. It gives them an opportunity to learn discipline, to learn skills, not just skating but life skills to learn that hard work pays off. 

"When children are on the ice they are able to escape the pressures of everyday life, quite simply they are happy."

Nadia Smith, a lead coach at Basingstoke ice rink, told those at the meeting that she has skated at the rink since it opened. Her two young children are just starting their ice skating journey.

She said: "The rink isn't just an ice rink it's a central hub where people come to express their passion, they socialise, they keep fit and also keep sane."

She continued: "I feel if the town were to lose the ice rink it would have a huge impact on so many people's lives.

SEE ALSO: Plan for new complex to replace Basingstoke Aquadrome

"The loss would be really devastating and we beg please will you consider putting a new facility in your plan."

Another mother-of-two, Sue Dilley who was born and raised in Basingstoke, has two children aged 17 and 13 who are both skaters.

She said: "Both my children absolutely love this rink. My daughter does struggle with anxiety but when she is on the ice she is free from the stress and pressures of the world outside. The minute her boot touches the ice she feels a sense of calm and peace."

She added: "I asked her what skating means to her and she said 'escapism, freedom and happiness'."

Basingstoke Gazette: Councillor at the meeting Councillor at the meeting (Image: Newsquest)

Her son has also faced struggles and the rink is a safe place for him where he can be who he wants to be.

She added: "My dream is that the redevelopment of the Aquadrome can co-join with an ice rink."

The view was also shared by some borough councillors.

Cllr Sean Dillow said: "As a council, we must listen to all our residents, we need to think big, be bold and have the conviction to invest in the town’s future leisure facilities. Yes, build a new and better Aquadrome, but we need and must ensure, one way or another, that we keep ice in Basingstoke too".

Basingstoke Gazette: Cllr Sean Dillow outside the current rink Cllr Sean Dillow outside the current rink (Image: Cllr Sean Dillow)

Cllr Alex Lee said he has been calling for a new ice rink for a number of years and said the prospect of new plans gives the council a chance to think about the longer term future.

"The inclusion of the ice rink is not just beneficial its essential," he said.

READ MORE: Basingstoke aquadrome users welcome plans for new complex

The co-leader of the council Cllr Gavin James said he understands the passion behind the ice rink.

He said: "We have included the option within these papers of a replacement ice facility."

He continued: "The problem is we can't say its core because there is an ice rink there at the moment and they may repair it."

He said all the council can do at the moment is have the option there in the event that the current rink closes.

Proposed provisions at the water and leisure complex, which would move to a new location at the leisure park, include a 25-metre eight-lane competition pool, 20-metre four-lane teaching pool, leisure waters with flumes, a 150-station gym, three studios and a spin studio, an indoor clip and climb, indoor adventure soft play, party rooms and café.

It is hoped the formal search for a leisure specialist to design, get planning permission for, build and run the new council-owned centre at Basingstoke Leisure Park can now start.