THE BOROUGH council has been criticised for making no progress in coming up with a contingency plan for the town's ice rink.

Leader of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council's opposition, Cllr Andy McCormick, hit out at officers at a meeting on Wednesday night for 'not having a plan' on the future of the dilapidated facility.

And Cllr Kim Taylor added that "the people of Basingstoke" are going to be the losers of the saga.

As previously reported, the facility at Planet Ice is deteriorating, with permafrost forming in the pad and structural worries raising question marks over the future of the facility.

To confound this, the upcoming redevelopment of the Leisure Park, where the rink is sited, has seen a debate over whether the ice rink could be moved to a new home.

In a turn of events, it was announced that the council had rejected all three alternative sites proposed because of "cost and viability" concerns.

And it now appears that it could be staying put in the current building after all.

The committee had noted at its previous meeting in June that "good progress" had been made on the issue.

But after officers revealed that they were still waiting on a report on the viability of refurbishing the existing Planet Ice building, some councillors expressed disappointment.

"We have had over a year and not come up with anything," Cllr McCormick said.

"We are waiting for reports we haven't got. I have got no confidence that this ice rink is going to be usable in two years time and we have any contingency whatsoever. What is the contingency at the moment?

"Basically we have got nothing. We have discounted one option and we are waiting to see if we can do something second.

"We do not have a plan. The ice rink is deteriorating rapidly.

"We have had over a year and not come up with anything."

Officers had been asked to contact other councils about how they managed repairs to their facilities, and reported back to say that there was a "comparable situation" in Milton Keynes.

Councillors were told that the Bedfordshire town's rink was closed for 12 months, and that a temporary rink was operated by users in a vacant retail unit.

And with the threat of closure looming large on the horizon, council officials were urged by committee members to hurry up with their decision on whether a temporary facility was needed.

Cllr Jack Cousens said: "[Ice rink users] could be excused for thinking that it is being kicked into the long grass. What can we do to get the right people to get their skates on?"

Cllr Taylor added: "I do think that this is starting to feel like banging heads together and it's going to be the people of Basingstoke that are going to be the losers.

"People are going to be losing their patience over this."

However, Cllr Izett defended the administration, saying: "There has been progress made.

"I get weekly reports from officers, it is one of the top agenda items, and I don't see why it should take long now to get the specifications sorted and come up with a proper, costed proposal.

"I am aware like everyone else that there is always an ongoing risk of failure to the ice.

"We are not saying there is a chequebook from the council [to fund the repairs], but we want to play a constructive role in all of this, and we will listen to proposals that we get. But the council is not running an ice rink."

Heath Rhodes, chief operating officer at Planet Ice, also told the meeting that the permafrost issues are not causing danger to users of the ice, but threaten the future of the pad.

He said there had been confusion over who was responsible for it.

Planet Ice previously said that after a specification was drawn up, they hope to run a tender for the works by Christmas.

From there, it will take around six months to complete the works.