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Canterbury on Ice is back on track as council takes on project

By Gerry Warren

Poor planning put the skids under the last bid to put a festive ice rink in a park near the city centre.

But Canterbury City Council says it is now taking on the project itself and making an early start to bring the attraction to Dane John Gardens this winter.

Bosses have just announced that Canterbury On Ice is back on track and have started the process of finding a specialist company to fit and supply the feature.

How the ice skating rink in the Dane John Gardens will look.
How the ice skating rink in the Dane John Gardens will look.

The aim is to have it all up and running smoothly for five weeks over Christmas and the New Year.

They hope that by starting the process earlier, they will not run into the problems that blighted an attempt by a private operator to open a rink in 2017, but simply gave himself too little time and ran into issues with suppliers.

This time, the rink will be run directly by the city council as a commercial and cultural venture, including the management, booking process, staffing, advertising and security, providing opportunities for local people and businesses.

The council’s head of commercial and cultural development, Caroline Cooper, said: “We’re very aware that it was tried before by a private operator and ultimately failed.

“But it showed there is a massive demand for a festive rink in the city centre and that it would really complement the existing Christmas offer. Since then we’ve done a huge amount of work behind the scenes looking at the best way to make it happen.

“We have crunched the numbers and believe that running it ourselves is financially viable and that it will provide a big boost for local businesses, as well as adding to the cultural vibrancy of the city.

“We are aware the public may be a little sceptical, but we’re determined to make a success of this and give local people a fantastic new experience.”

The previous attempt to open an ice rink in the Dane John Gardens never got any further than this (10296554)
The previous attempt to open an ice rink in the Dane John Gardens never got any further than this (10296554)

The rink will be able to cater for up to 140 skaters at any one time and there will also be a small number of food and drink outlets.

On Tuesday, the council began advertising the opportunity for companies to bid for the contract to supply and instal the ice rink. Full details are on the Kent Business Portal.

Tickets will go on sale early in the autumn with prices announced nearer the time.

Anyone interested can sign up for updates on the project and alerts about tickets going on sale at www.canterbury.gov.uk/canterburyonice.

Read more: All the latest news from Canterbury

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