AN ice-skating rink bought using £27,000 of taxpayers’ money ran at a LOSS during its first three months open to the public, the Mail can reveal.
The East Staffordshire Borough Council-owned rink, located in Burton Market Place between November and January, earned just £3,734 from ticket sales – but cost £5,426 in overheads during that time. This meant a loss of £1,692.
Councillor Bill Ganley, a member of the Labour opposition, said: “I am not surprised at the loss.
“There were so many holes in the skating rink. It was a good idea to introduce something within the Market Place but you would have thought that with the council being under the microscope that they would have got it right.
“It is a tiny skating rink, and as it doesn’t have a canopy you cannot use it in all weather and had no lighting so cannot use it at night.
“It was such a lacklustre attempt at providing people with entertainment.
“All I would need is five minutes with a group of people from Burton and we would have come up with better ideas than the council has done.”
The council has also revealed a total of 1,073 people paid to use the rink, and a further 633 used it for free. The authority added that it had anticipated 1,000 users for the first event.
It also said that to hire the same rink would cost £17,495 a year, and to hire a “real” ice rink would have cost more than £40,000 a year.
Councillor David Leese, deputy leader for partnerships, said: “The ice rink created an attraction that had not been seen in Burton before.
“On its opening night, the ice rink attracted an increased level of footfall into the town, which provided economic benefits to the town centre.
“The ice rink also created some much needed jobs and employed people who were out of work and will be used on numerous occasions, during this year and future years, creating an attraction for visitors.
“It exceeded our first year expectations numerically and like all new seasonal events will take time to settle in and create seasonal habits.
“If we do not take steps to revitalise the area nothing will ever happen and the downhill trend will continue.”